The American Optometric Association recommends that children receive a complete vision exam at the ages of six months, three years, and then yearly while the child is in school. It is particularly important that a child have a complete evaluation in the summer prior to entry into Kindergarten.
The visual skills needed for academic success are learned and continue to develop from infancy. It is important that after starting school, children receive yearly eye exams to ensure they are visually ready for the learning that takes place in the classroom.
A thorough eye exam rules out any possible vision problems that may be part of the reason for a child’s difficulty with learning. When children have trouble using both eyes together or cannot focus for great lengths of time, they do not simply grow out of these problems. Children with vision problems often become adults with vision problems.
Vision screenings at the pediatrician’s office and at school usually only test one visual skill – distance eyesight. Most people think that 20/20 is “perfect vision,” which is a MYTH! 20/20 is simply a measurement of what someone is able to see at a distance of 20 feet.
However, most of a child’s learning occurs through reading and writing within arm’s reach, not 20 feet away!
Distance eyesight (acuity) is one of 17 visual skills required for reading and learning, yet is the only one tested in most vision screenings. The additional visual skills include the ability to use the eyes together, to focus the eyes, and to move across the page accurately. Passing a vision screening which tests only distance eyesight gives parents a FALSE sense of security that nothing is wrong.
Reading and learning becomes unnecessarily challenging when any of a child’s visual skills are not working properly. A struggling student may avoid reading, develop behavior problems that lead to “homework wars,” or have to work excessively hard to keep pace. When a child is bright in everything but school, parents become confused by the child’s difficulties. Often the child is labeled hyperactive, disruptive, lazy, or slow. What makes this even worse is that many of these vision problems can easily be misdiagnosed as learning disabilities or attention problems, such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder).
Not All Eye Exams Are Created Equally!
Most eye doctors’ exams are designed to check the health of your child’s eyes and to determine if your child needs glasses or contact lenses to improve distance eyesight. The routine eye exam is not designed to test ALL of the 17 visual skills required for academic success.
Our in-depth pediatric Developmental Vision Evaluation goes beyond 20/20 to assess many important visual skills, such as:
Visual Acuity at Near
Eye Movement Control
To determine whether your child needs a more in-depth Developmental Vision Evaluation, visit our Signs & Symptoms Checklist. To request an appointment, call our office at (239) 682-0945.