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Right now you may be frantically preparing for your child's return to school in a difficult and uncertain year. One of the best things you can do for your child's academic experience, no matter what the year looks like, is scheduling a comprehensive eye examination for them! Below we've got five facts about children's eye health that show that it's one of the most important parts of their development.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) says that nearly 80 percent of learning occurs through visual activities. Your child's vision is constantly in use both in the classroom and at play, and increasing levels of development lead to increasing demands made on the eyes. Effective reading and learning requires a surprising number of skills: visual acuity, eye focusing, eye tracking, eye teaming (the coordination of both eyes together), eye-hand coordination, and visual perception (the ability to organize images). Visual skills are also instrumental in recognition, comprehension, and learning retention.
If development of any of the above skills described is impeded by physical issues like refractive errors, it won't just harm your child's vision but also their ability and willingness to learn. A young child may not understand that their vision is different from how everybody else sees, and might become frustrated by reading or schoolwork. It's important to know the signs of a child dealing with a vision problem:
A vision screening is not a comprehensive eye exam. A typical vision screening only checks for 20/20 vision, and while this is useful for detecting major eyesight changes, the AOA estimates that 60 percent of vision problems go undetected by basic screenings. A child should have their first comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist at six months old, again at three years old, and then yearly when they reach school age.
The reason that comprehensive eye exams are necessary is that there are a host of problems that could affect your child's vision at various stages of development. The most common ones include:
There are 12 million children worldwide with vision impairment due to eye injuries, and every year around 20,000 sports-related eye injuries occur to children in America. It's important to always wear protective gear during sports, both goggles and helmets. It's not just the threat of something impacting the eye; head trauma from concussions can also cause vision problems. This can manifest as symptoms like blurry vision, light sensitivity, difficulty focusing, difficulty reading, peripheral vision problems, and problems with visual perception. Make sure your child uses proper protective gear like helmets!