Most schools conduct a basic vision test for their students every year. Unfortunately, it is not as comprehensive as it should be and fails to detect all potential problems. Most parents don’t realize that their child’s difficulties with learning may stem from vision related learning challenges even if they have 20/20 vision.
What is 20/20 Vision?
20/20 vision is a specific term used to describe normal visual acuity (sharpness/clarity of vision). If the person has 20/20 vision, it means they can see clearly at 20 feet. However, other crucial visual skills including side vision, eye coordination, tracking, focusing ability and depth perception, also contribute to a person’s overall visual ability.
What Are the Limitations?
Basic visual acuity tests are limited and do not give you all of the information you need to identify a vision related learning challenge that may impact your child’s ability to learn effectively. It’s essential to understand what these limitations are:
- During the test, a child sits or stands still. The object they look at is also stationary. These conditions are ideal for looking at things and seeing them clearly. It doesn’t test the eye’s ability to track movement, see color, focus on objects at a varying distance, etc.
- The person doesn’t have to move their eyes from one side to another to read. When a student is reading a book or the school board, their eyes have to move in different directions. If this movement is hampered in some way, they can experience difficulty in reading or retaining the information.
A comprehensive vision test goes beyond just reading bold letters from a fixed distance. Optometrists carefully examine the structure of the eye, study things like depth perception, accommodation, binocular vision as well as the ability to see color.
When Should a Child Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam?
As 80% of learning happens through our visual system, experts recommend getting a comprehensive exam before your child starts school. A child’s first detailed eye exam should be schedule around 1 year of age and repeated annually.
This allows the doctor to monitor your child’s eye health and offer preventive solutions. This is especially important now because most modern kids spend hours peering at the computer and mobile screens, which can strain the eyes significantly.
Signs of Vision-Related Learning Problems
Parents can be proactive and be on the lookout for signs of vision-related learning problems. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Poor handwriting
- Difficulty focusing on text
- Double vision during or after reading for an extended period
- Blurred vision after reading or working closely on something
- Distractedness during reading
- Poor reading comprehension
- Avoidance of reading
- Eye-strain and frequent headaches caused by it
- Word or letter reversals
If your child is performing poorly in school, even if they dedicate a reasonable amount of time to studies, they might be struggling with vision disorders. If they display any of these symptoms, it’s essential you contact an expert eye doctor who specializes in vision related learning challenges without delay.
What Can You Do At Home?
There are some ways to test a child’s vision at home. It can help parents decide whether they should take their child to a doctor for a more comprehensive exam. These tests include:
- Check the eye movement as the child reads. Do your child’s eyes move smoothly from one side to another? Or do they display excessive head movement?
- Can your child focus while moving from far away objects to nearby objects?
- Do both eyes move together in proper alignment in all directions without head movement?
Checking your child’s eyes regularly can help avoid the stress and pain caused by poor academic performance.