Eyesight and School Age
Correlation of Vision Problems and Learning difficulties.
Good eyesight is certainly a prerequisite for success at school. If a child’s vision is impaired, school performance will be lacking. According to a recent study, up to 25% of children experience eyesight problems that affect their learning ability.
For parents with school children, learning difficulties are a major concern. Even though they usually appear in children up to 7 years old, they are often not detected until the child goes to school. Often, however, learning difficulties may be the result of simple eyesight problems. A refractive error may be related to a learning difficulty or may be the cause of the difficulties a child faces in school.
If your child’s writing is sloppy, if they dislike or are having a hard time reading, writing or doing math, if they often reverse letters while reading or writing, or are constantly confusing the right hand with their left, if they face difficulties in oral communication or exhibit antisocial behavior, you should consult an expert. Consult with your ophthalmologist, who will be able to discover a potential eye problem and ask your pediatrician to inform you and refer you to a specialist.
Eyesight and School Age: Which disorders appear?
The basic disorders are:
- Amblyopia (4%)
- Strabismus (1-2%)
- Myopia (5% up to 8 years, 26% up to 14 years and 30% up to 20 years of age)
- Hyperopia (90% up to 5 years and 15% over 5 years of age)
When should we visit an ophthalmologist?
Since good school performance and later success in life depends to a large extend on proper eye function, parents should check their children by observing their reaction to various visual stimuli and by identifying any anomalies. If, during early school years, a child has normal language development but exhibits learning difficulties or difficulty in reading, it may be suffering from an eye condition.
Symptoms parents must look for during school years are:
- The child holds the book too close to its eyes to be able to read, or sits too close to the television.
- When reading, the child skips words or sentences or easily confuses the lines of the text.
- The child must follow the text with its finger to stay on the line.
- The child does not write in a straight line.
- The child cannot concentrate easily and its attention is easily diverted.
- The child does not have the right posture during studying.
- The child tilts its head to see better.
- The child squints its eyes.
- The child blinks extensively or rubs its eyes often.
- The child is sensitive to light.
- The child demonstrates abnormal eye movement or alignment.
- The child closes one eye to read or watch television.
- The child takes a long time to finish its homework.
- The child does not easily understand the things it is reading.
- The child complains of headaches or having tired eyes.
- The child avoids using the computer as it feels that its eyes “are getting tired”.
- The child avoids activities which require far vision, such as team sports or near vision, such as reading.
- The child’s school performance is reduced.
If a child presents one or more of the above symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist. Usually, the eye evaluation shows that the child suffers from myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism. These refractive anomalies can be easily corrected using glasses or contact lenses.
How often should the child visit the ophthalmologist?
Luckily, today we have the expertise and technology to perform examinations which can diagnose many conditions before they cause damage. As there are many conditions without any obvious symptoms, children of all ages should undergo preventive examinations.
Your child should certainly be examined by an ophthalmologist for the first time before it is 6 months old. All babies, and especially high risk infants such as premature babies or babies with a family history of ophthalmologic disorders, need to be submitted to an eye examination by a Pediatric Ophthalmologist.
This evaluation is performed to ensure the good health of the child’s eyes and to identify any rare disorders, such as congenital cataract, microphthalmia, congenital glaucoma, etc. The next eye examination needs to be carried out at the age of 3 and the one after than before the child starts going to school. Children who go to school and do not exhibit any eyesight problems need to visit the ophthalmologist every two to three years. If your child, however, needs glasses or contact lenses, an annual visit to the ophthalmologist will be required. You should always keep in mind that as the child grows, its eyesight changes accordingly, and thus their glasses prescription needs to change as well. Finally, during the visit to the ophthalmologist, the child’s ability to adjust its vision from close to far distances and vice versa, and their central and peripheral vision will also be checked.
Keep in mind that the eye examination that is carried out by the pediatrician is not enough, since although they will examine the child’s eyesight for potential problems, they cannot replace the ophthalmologist. Although the pediatrician’s examination is useful, it does not suffice to diagnose serious conditions. So, parents need to make sure they schedule a visit to an ophthalmologist, who will thoroughly examine child’s eyesight, at the times stated above.
Finally, keep in mind: Your ophthalmologist is the best source for responsible information on issues that are related to the health of your eyes. Under no circumstances is the information available on our website intended to replace your doctor. Always contact your doctor for information.