As many as one in four school-age children have vision problems. Vision problems not diagnosed and treated have a negative impact on learning. Vision problems with the potential to impact learning include skills related to sustained reading. Problems with eye movement control, eye focusing or accommodation, and eye teaming or binocularity can affect efficiency of learning despite a child having 20/20 vision. Although the most prevalent eye problem in children is refractive errors that affect visual acuity, there are additional skills important for visual information acquisition. The examination of children for eye and vision problems should therefore include all visual functions of acuity, binocularity, eye motility and focusing, and ocular health, including neurodevelopmental and congenital eye abnormalities. The identification of all eye and vision problems a child may have can only be through a comprehensive eye examination, not a vision screening. Due to the importance of early identification and therefore treatment of eye and vision problems, the American Optometric Association recommends all children receive their first eye examination before the age of one year. National estimates suggest a rate of vision screening between a low of 2 percent to a high of 64 percent, and vision screenings are only able to identify 27 percent of the children who actually have vision problems. Furthermore, the data showing the proportion of these children who fail the vision screening and subsequently receive comprehensive vision care and treatment of vision problems is uncertain.
Vision screenings are not a substitute for a comprehensive eye examination that evaluates not only acuity and eye health, but also focusing, eye teaming, eye tracking, and visual processing skills - skills needed for academic success. Excellent vision starts with seeing clearly but it does not end there; focusing skills and eye teaming skills are important for school readiness and academic success.
* Vision problems left untreated may result in the reduction of the efficiency of the visual system. Timely identification and treatment of visual acuity and visual performance problems will allow a child to perform at his or her full potential.
* An eye/vision assessment conducted as part of a pediatric well child visit or school physical cannot substitute for regular professional eye care. Vision screening is a limited process of surveying certain aspects of vision problem areas. An exam by an eye doctor is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of eye and vision problems prior to entry into school.
* There is more to vision than reading the 20/20 line on an eyechart. It is also necessary to have both eyes work together, track objects and focus at different distances. You can learn more about this on our Vision Therapy page.
* All children should receive a comprehensive eye and vision examination to diagnose and treat any deficiencies in ocular health, visual acuity, refractive status, ocular motility, focusing and binocular vision prior to entering school. The first eye examination should take place by the age of one year. Subsequent examinations should parallel child development of social, motor, and cognitive skills and are recommended to take place at the age of three years, and every two years thereafter. Symptomatic and at risk children such as those struggling in school, may need to have examinations more frequently.
Babies learn to see just as they learn to walk and talk. Focusing the eyes, moving the eyes accurately and using the visual information the eyes send to the brain are all learned skills. Eyes that are healthy and have good vision are critical in proper development of how infants and children learn to see.
It is recommended that infants have a first eye exam between 6-12 months even for healthy babies. The doctors at Davison Road Optical provide a no charge eye exam to infants thru the InfantSee program. InfantSee is a public health program by the American Optometric Association that promotes eye and vision care by offering a no cost public service to infants 6 to 12 months of age. Both doctors at our office are proud participants in this program. The InfantSee.org website has more details.
Signs of eye and vision problems for infants include: excessive tearing, a constant eye turn, extreme sensitivity to light, a pupil that appears white and red or crusty eye lids. If you have concerns about your child’s eye health, please call and schedule an appointment with our office at 716-434-8063.
Glasses and contact lenses are good options for children who need vision correction. Contact lenses provide a number of benefits beyond simply correcting a child’s vision. A study following nearly 50 nearsighted children over three years, found children who wore contact lenses felt better about their physical appearance, acceptance among friends and their ability to play sports. Those children who disliked wearing glasses also felt more confident about their schoolwork when wearing contact lenses. The maturity level required to wear contact lenses varies among individuals. This is a decision to be made between the child, the parents and the doctor.
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