Is your child struggling to see?

Vision problems to look for as kids head back to school

Dr. David Bauer | Bauer & Clausen Optometry

It may be hard to believe, but it’s already time to get kids ready to head back to school. That means the smell of new crayons, the feel of new backpacks and just a little bit of angst over that ever-so-crucial first day of school outfit. It’s a time of getting back on schedule, buckling down and getting focused once again. 

For those with an undiagnosed vision problem, focusing on school can be difficult. In fact, trouble seeing words on the page, board or screen in front of them can cause frustration, educational setbacks and even behavioral problems in the classroom.

Statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 4 school-age children struggle with vision impairment—an estimated 2 million children nationwide. But why don’t our children just tell us that they can’t see?

There are several reasons that vision problems go undiagnosed. First, if your child is young, they may not be able to read or simply don’t realize their vision is blurry. In fact, they may not even recognize they’re having trouble seeing until they put on a pair of glasses. After all, we can’t miss what we never had – and that includes clear vision.

Good eyesight is key to learning; in fact, the American Optometric Association suggests that as much as 80% of learning occurs through the eyes. That doesn’t just include reading and writing, but also sports, art and other activities.

That’s why it’s so important to get children tested so any problems can be diagnosed and treated. Although most schools provide vision screenings, they are not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist. Making an eye exam just another part of getting ready for each school year means vision changes can be tracked and corrected as soon as possible.

But what about in between eye exams? Here are 5 things you can keep an eye out for (pun intended) when it comes to your child’s eyesight:

·      Squinting

Peeking through partially closed eyes temporarily improves vision. If you notice your child is squinting frequently, he or she could be compensating for vision problems.

·      Covering one eye or head tilting

Both of these practices are common for children dealing with double vision or a muscle imbalance.

·      Rubbing eyes

Dealing with vision problems can cause fatigue, as children strain to see or decipher information in front of them. Constant eye rubbing may be a signal of that fatigue.

·      Losing place, lowering the head or finger pointing while reading

Although these actions can be somewhat common in children who are learning to read, they can also signal they’re having trouble seeing the words on the page. A number of vision problems could be the culprit.

·      Headaches

Children struggling with vision problems often have headaches. They may also complain of having pain along their brow line.

Remember—healthy vision is essential for success in school, so be sure to have your children’s eyes checked before they get back on the school bus. They (and their teacher!) will thank you for it. 

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