Thursday, August 12, 2010
In addition to being Breastfeeding Awareness Month, August is also Children’s Vision and Learning Month. A time for parents and educators to become more informed about the link between vision and learning.
Unfortunately, a lot of vision problems go undiagnosed in young children and can often be mistaken as learning or behavior issues. One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem that can lead to problems in school and even effect learning if not properly treated.
The problem with diagnosing children is that they may not report any symptoms, as they may think that their vision is normal- they have no comparison. By complete happenstance my husband and I learned that our daughter suffered from amblyopia, also called "lazy eye." This is a condition where one eye is weaker than the other and the stronger eye increasingly does the work of seeing. She happened to have a stubborn bump on her eye, actually a chalazion, which we originally thought was a stye. She was sent to the eye institute and after a complete eye exam they informed us of her vision condition and her need to wear glasses.
We were stunned, as we saw no symptoms that would have led us to believe she had vision problems. And what was even scarier… if she never got the bump, we would have never known of her vision issues. The good news is, early detection and early treatment of amblyopia usually results in normal vision. We bought her cute glasses (she is actually now on her 4th pair in one year) so if we can just keep her glasses on (and in one piece) we’ll be in good shape. We were lucky that her condition had not progressed to a point where it could not be corrected and that her vision had not begun to affect her learning.
So what should you do? Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with the optometrist for your child before s/he returns to school. The school vision screening is not thorough enough and many vision problems can go undetected. A child can pass the school vision screening, have 20/20 vision and still have vision problems that need treatment.
You can also be on the lookout for the five most common signs that a vision problem may be interfering with your child’s ability to read and learn:
1. Skips lines, rereads lines
2. Poor reading comprehension
3. Takes much longer doing homework than it should take
4. Reverses letters like b’s into d’s when reading
5. Has a short attention span with reading and schoolwork
If you child shows the above signs, consider getting an eye exam in the near future for your child.