As the first semester of 2014-2015 school year comes to an end, parents are hopeful their children are meeting and exceeding the minimum standards to excel in school. Most have had a parent-teacher conference and have asked this question. It is important from a parent’s perspective to know that reading ability is the single most influential factor that will determine their child’s success in school.
A child’s academic performance determines many of their future opportunities and their ability to read well early on will impact their entire future. Eighty percent of all learning is performed through vision. Statistics show that about 3 out of ten 10 children are at risk for undiagnosed vision problems so this means that 30% of children are at risk for learning difficulties due to uncorrected vision or eye coordination problems. Children with uncorrected visual and eye coordination problems face many obstacles. They can struggle academically or with social activities and in athletics. If their visual difficulties continue to go uncorrected, they continue to fall behind in school until they reach a point where they can’t catch up and become so frustrated they begin acting out. This behavior becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that can significantly influence the course of a child’s life.
An effort to catch these problems is found in school vision screenings. Vision screenings are an important service provided by most schools and the benefits can be far reaching. There are many children who simply need to have reading glasses or help with eye coordination to improve tracking which in turn improves reading ability. Unfortunately, it’s easy for them to be overlooked and put under various labels such as: learning challenged, learning disabled, ADHD, or ADD. Vision screenings work to prevent this; however, screenings should be recognized as having a limited ability to truly assess a child’s ability to function in the classroom.
Vision screenings typically only evaluate visual acuity or how small of letters a child can see in the distance and at near. According to the American Foundation for Vision Awareness, the methods employed in vision screenings only identify 5% of the vision problems in children. Knowing a child has 20/20 vision in the distance does not indicate whether or not his eyes are able to work together to read materials 12 inches away, whether or not they can properly track letters on a page, or if there is an eye health problem or vision perception problem. In addition to that, fewer than 50% of the children identified in a screening as needing professional eye and vision care ever receive that care, and for those who do, the average time between the screening and the exam is 18 months.
While screenings can be very beneficial, they do not replace a full eye exam. Correcting vision problems from an early age is crucial in allowing a child to succeed to the fullest. Children should receive a comprehensive eye exam beginning in Kindergarten. As a child progresses through school, their academic curriculum changes, and with it, their visual needs. For these reasons, it is especially important that children receive a comprehensive vision and eye health evaluation from an optometrist on a yearly basis. Correcting vision problems from an early age is crucial in allowing a child to succeed to the fullest.
If you would like to schedule an eye exam for your child, or if you have questions regarding children’s vision and school screenings, please contact our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eyecare Center!