Writing, reading, and studying are several visual ways children learn at school, and visual demand on their eyesight only grows as they progress through decreasing font sizes and increased time focusing on schoolwork. Plus, in light of the pandemic and virtual learning, students across the country have transitioned to remote instruction that involves long periods in front of a computer screen.
When your child's vision is impaired, their education can suffer. Dr. Debi Sarma, an optometrist at 2020 On-site, recently shared that our eyes were made to look into the distance, not at bright screens for hours on end – it's no wonder our eyes can't keep up in this current environment!
In fact, there are studies that directly link success in school with corrected vision. If you have a young child, it's important to recognize the importance eye exams have in identifying vision problems so they remain successful in the classroom.
Here are five eye statistics that reveal the necessity for routine eye exams for children:
More than one in 20 preschool-age children and one in four school-age children have a vision disorder.
Eye exams help detect common vision disorders caused by family history, developmental delays, high refractive error, physical illnesses or diseases, and other risk factors. With the majority of classroom information being presented visually, children generally should have their first eye exam at six months of age, another exam at age three, and again at the start of each school year as their vision changes, according to the American Optometric Association.
"We stress the importance of seeing kids before the golden age of six,” says Dr. Pena, OD at 2020 On-site. “If a child has an undiagnosed vision correction after six, it can be more difficult to correct vision to 20/20 or they may have Amblyopia, which might require vision therapy.”
The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that 80 percent of all learning during a child's first 12 years comes through the eyes.
Clear vision is important for younger students, whether it’s reading their first book, understanding the equation on the whiteboard, or scoring their first goal in gym class. When vision problems are left untreated, children could struggle in the classroom. In fact, many are misdiagnosed with learning disabilities for simply showing signs of vision impairment: fatigue, fidgeting, and frustration. Routine eye exams can reveal vision problems early on, allowing you to identify proper vision correction in a timely manner and prevent misdiagnosed learning disabilities later.
Fewer than 15 percent of preschool children receive an eye exam by a professional.
Adults with vision problems typically seek care from an eye care specialist, but children who've never experienced comfortable, clear vision may not realize their eyesight is impaired — that’s why parents need to be their advocates for healthy eyes!
Common vision problems in children include blurry vision caused by nearsightedness/myopia, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Even children with 20/20 vision may still have difficulty in focusing, tracking, and coordination. Our eye care specialists warn parents about the impending “myopia epidemic” as nearsightedness rapidly increases across the world. Myopia requires more than needing glasses — it greatly increases the risk of retinal detachment and other ocular health conditions. Today, there are newer treatment methods to slow the progression, but it’s critical to manage it early before it is too late.
All children should have an annual comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist to identify and treat visually connected difficulties in school. As a parent, be sure to include your child in your annual eye exam — 2020 On-site welcomes children aged 8 and older onboard our mobile vision clinics.
Amblyopia (often called “lazy eye”) is the most common cause of vision loss in children, which is found in about 2 percent of children ages six months to six years old.
Common symptoms of lazy eye include poor depth perception, squinting or shutting an eye, head tilting, or abnormal results from vision screenings caused by the eyes' lack of ability to work together. However, amblyopia is often asymptomatic in kids as it usually only affects one eye (we usually have both eyes open so it’s not noticed). Overall, these symptoms are signs a comprehensive vision exam is needed, as lazy eye is not always evident without an exam, and can result in permanent vision loss if left undiagnosed and treated.
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends vision screening for all children at least once between age 3 and 5 years to detect amblyopia or risk factors for the disease.
Vision problems typically occur as we get older, but the unfortunate reality is that not all children can see clearly and need eye exams to ensure their healthy vision as well.
By law, public school students must undergo a simple vision screening in school, but these screenings miss between 70 and 80 percent of vision problems. Early treatment and diagnosis through a comprehensive eye exam are critical in preventing vision impairments in children that can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Scheduling your own eye exam? Bring the kids!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t the only group that recommends early eye exams for children – we do too! With children spending increased time in front of screens for virtual learning, parents and guardians have shared concerns about their children’s vision. Studies directly link success in school with corrected vision, and our mobile vision clinics make it easy for you, and your family, to receive innovative eye care at your convenience.
If you’re ready for your next eye exam, schedule an appointment for the whole family when we stop by your office or visit a neighborhood near you! Our eye care team is able to accommodate patients eight years old and older onboard our mobile vision clinics. If your child is younger than eight, we recommend visiting your local optometrist for a pediatric eye exam.