Back to school is just around the corner, and you want your child to have the best possible start to the school year. An essential part of this is making sure that your child goes back to school with the ability to learn and participate fully. No matter if your child currently wears glasses, or has never had a vision problem before, one thing you should do before school starts or very soon into the school year is to take your child for annual comprehensive eye exams. Children’s vision problems can often be misdiagnosed as conditions such as ADHD due to the similarity in symptoms between the two.
What are common symptoms of poor vision in Children?
While you should take your child to see an optometrist yearly from age 3 (the first eye exam should be at age 6 months), regardless of whether or not they have these symptoms, if they start to display any of these throughout the school year you should always give the optometrist a visit.
- Poor reading or its comprehension
- Short attention span for tasks that are done at close range
- Eye-rubbing and/or frequent blinking
- Sitting close to the television
- Slow to finish schoolwork (on computer and paper)
- A tendency to fidget and continually looking away from work
- Constant head tilting or turning to one side
Many of these symptoms can be misinterpreted as ADHD, learning disabled and dyslexia, but often the underlying issue is poor vision. The problem though is that many children do not know how to communicate that they are experiencing a vision problem. This skill is usually not attained until age 10. Either they do not have the vocabulary to explain what is wrong, they do not know how to explain it, or they may not realize something is wrong whatsoever. If they have always had poor vision, then that is their “normal,” and they may not understand that there is something that can be done to help them see better.
But what about screenings offered at school?
Most eye and hearing screenings offered at school are not done at the beginning of the year, and so if your child has a vision problem, then they may be suffering with it until the screening
flags something, which will affect their ability to learn. About 80% of learning that children do at school is through their eyes, and most of the work they do is written or on a computer device. Screenings are also not eye health exams, simply vision measurements that do not reflect quality or comfort of vision. This leads to false negatives on vision screenings, meaning the child’s performance is above level of detection of poor vision comfort or quality. Vision screenings are meant to detect only those at highest risk.
Why are eye exams so important?
Many children have absolutely nothing wrong with their vision, and their eye exam will be a simple check-up as well as an opportunity for the optometrist to get to know them so that they are comfortable together and begin a record of your child’s vision, which will help them if something pops up later. If there are issues, though, an optometrist can diagnose and treat a wide variety of eye problems including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, ocular motility restrictions (tracking), eye misalignment (strabismus), colour blindness, and poor depth perception. Clear, comfortable binocular vision opens up opportunities for learning for your child academically as well as help them with athletic pursuits.
Pediatric Eye Care
Going to an optometrist experienced in working with children is the best way to ensure your child has good vision to tackle the school year. Dr. Jeff Sciberras is rated #1 pediatric Optometrist in Mississauga. Whether your child needs updated eyeglasses, are interested in contact lenses, or just need to complete their annual eye exam, this Mississauga eye care clinic is always welcoming new patients. Contact us today and finish that back-to-school checklist.