School Age Vision
A good education for your child means good school experiences, good teachers and good vision. Your child's eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. So when his or her vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer.
The basic vision skills needed for school use are:
Near vision – the ability to see clearly and comfortably at 10-13 inches
Distance vision – the ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm's reach
Binocular coordination – the ability to use both eyes together
Eye movement skills – the ability to aim the eyes accurately, move them smoothly across a page and shift them quickly and accurately from one object to another
Focusing skills – the ability to keep both eyes accurately focused at the proper distance to see clearly and to change focus quickly
Peripheral awareness – the ability to be aware of things located to the side while looking straight ahead
Eye/hand coordination – the ability to use the eyes and hands together
If any of these or other vision skills is lacking or not functioning properly, your child will have to work harder. This can lead to headaches, fatigue and other eyestrain problems. As a parent, be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem.
Be sure to tell your optometrist if your child frequently:
Loses their place while reading
Avoids close work
Holds reading material closer than normal
Tends to rub their eyes
Turns or tilts head to use one eye only
Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing
Uses finger to maintain place when reading
Omits or confuses small words when reading
Consistently performs below potential
Since vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the optometrist at least every two years, or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. If needed, the doctor can prescribe treatment including eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision therapy.
Remember, a school vision or pediatrician's screening is not a substitute for a thorough eye examination.