Class is in Session: Time to Get Your Child’s Glasses

Class is in Session: Time to Get Your Child’s Glasses

Summer is over and the beginning of school has started. When was the last time you had your child's eyes examined?

Many kids do not know they have a vision problem. They don't know they have a problem until someone gives them a pair of glasses and the world comes into focus. It can be a life-changing event in a child's life.

Routine eye care for children can identify problems and prevent learning/behavior issues. It is important to integrate visual health into your child's healthcare regimen.

What happens if a child has an undiagnosed visual impairment?

The majority of learning is often visual. The teacher puts lessons up on the board or on the screen at the front of the class. Reading and writing are both visual tasks. Displays on the wall offer supplemental learning opportunities. Yet, all require normal visual abilities.

When a child has poor vision, he or she will struggle every day. This struggle can manifest in many ways.

  • Below average learning: If a student is struggling to see what the teacher is putting up on the board, or what the textbook says, that child will have difficulty keeping up with his or her classmates. The student can fall further and further behind as the school year progresses.
  • Referrals for special education evaluation: It is easy for a teacher to mistake a child with poor vision for a child with learning disabilities. When a child is struggling with learning, the teacher may want to have the child evaluated to identify whether or not a disability is present.
  • Behavioral issues: When a student becomes frustrated with school work, that frustration can come out in the form of behavioral issues because the child can be disruptive in and out of the classroom.

Signs a child is having vision problems

Children often have issues verbalizing vision problems. It is something they live with constantly and do not understand that it is a fixable problem. Fortunately, there are signs that may indicate that a child is having vision issues.

  • Squinting: This is a classic symptom of near and farsightedness. A child can sometimes bring things into focus by clinching the muscles around the eyes. With those diagnosis, a kid may end up wearing glasses to correct the issue.
  • Closing one eye: Sometimes a child will close one eye and focus only with the other. This may indicate one eye has visual impairment or the eyes have a structural issue like astigmatism.
  • Rubbing eyes excessively: The eyes can become tired with constant squinting and adjusting.
  • Tilting the head: If the muscles around the eye are out of balance, the child may find that tilting the head helps with focusing.
  • Headaches and dry/watery eyes: Many students experience headaches because of the constant eye strain. Irritated eyes can become dry or experience excessive tears.
  • Needing to sit close to see: Whether it's sitting close to the TV or at the front of the class, sitting closer is often a sign of nearsightedness.
  • Dislike or avoidance of reading: If a child is struggling with learning due to vision issues, reading can become a major obstacle. This can cause intense frustration and the child may want to avoid the task altogether.
  • Short attention span: Frustration can cause a kid to give up quickly on a given task and look for something else to do. This can happen with school work or any task where vision plays a big part.
  • Poor physical coordination: Throwing a ball or tying shoes can be challenging with certain visual problems.

How can you help your child?

Routine eye care for children is very important. Doctors recommend that a baby receive an eye exam at 6 months to identify any developmental issues. To make sure the child is ready for school, professionals recommend exams at 3 years old and 5 years old. After that point, annual exams can help identify changes that may be happening. This is especially important for children that wear glasses or have other vision problems.

It is important that eye care for children be a positive thing. Select an optometrist experienced in dealing with young patients. A good optometrist will make the exam fun and not frightening at all.

In between exams, parents need to monitor children for any signs of visual impairment. As a child grows, changes in vision can happen quite rapidly. A child may test okay at the beginning of the school year, yet have visual problems by the next spring.

With the next school year upon us, it is important to have your child's eyes examined in the beginning so they aren’t straining their eyes throughout the year. This will allow your child to start off the school year in a positive way. Whether your student is just starting kindergarten or years ahead of that point, routine eye care for children is something you need to make a priority.

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