August is here, and with it comes the start of a new school year! Not coincidentally, August also marks Vision and Learning Month.
In 1995, the month of August was declared National Children’s Vision and Learning month. The goal of this observance is to help parents and even educators learn about the link between learning and vision.
Vision and learning are intertwined in that about 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually. Currently, one in four children have an undiagnosed vision problem, while others have been misdiagnosed to have a learning disability, ADHD, or even laziness – when the underlying issue is vision related. When children are unable to see well, they have a difficult time concentrating and following along in school and at home, which can start a series of poor performance.
Unfortunately, poor performance in the classroom caused by an undiagnosed vision problem can lead to poor self-esteem and even behavior problems – what could have been prevented simply by a comprehensive exam and corrective action can ultimately escalate into pervasive and lingering issues for a child, her classroom, and a family.
Comprehensive eye exams are vital for children because simple school vision screenings may not detect common vision problems. Even if a child has 20/20 vision, problems such as eye tracking, coordination, and focusing may present troubles for learners. When evaluating someone for learning-related vision problems, an optometrist will conduct a thorough assessment of visual functions and eye health. Through this comprehensive check, an optometrist will be able to help a child improve visual function by treating and/or alleviating symptoms. Vision therapy may also be used to help improve issues such as visual processing and visual efficiency. Learning problems such as dyslexia may also require management from other disciplines to help prepare a child for lifelong learning.
It’s also important that, along with checking in on a student’s grades, you check in with their visual performance, as vision can change frequently throughout the year. Common signs of vision problems children may exhibit include:
- Difficulty recalling what was read
- Excessive eye rubbing or blinking
- Covering one eye
- Short attention span
- Headaches and eye strain
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Holding reading close to the face
Proper remediation of learning-related vision issues makes it easier and more likely for children to perform to their fullest potential. So between shopping for school supplies and new clothes as the school year approaches, be sure to make an appointment for your child to have a comprehensive eye exam.