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Why A Vision Screening in Laguna Beach Is Not Enough

How can I tell if my child has vision problems that affect their ability to read and learn?

Learning is 80% or more visual. Reading, writing, spelling, computer work, and seeing the board are all learning tasks that our children are required to perform in order to achieve success at school. These visual tasks and others that will be discussed below are all tasks that require accurate vision and quick visual response times, at near, middle, and far distances.

Eye Care Professionals Say...

Eye care professionals say that 20% of school-aged children do not possess the visual skill set that allows them to excel in school. It is important to remember that this 20% is referencing children with and without glasses or contact lenses, because having 20/20 vision addresses only one aspect of vision. A child in school will use a wide variety of visual skills that not only affect reading speed and accuracy, but also include reading comprehension and the ability to quickly browse through text.

frustrated child at school. Ad for vision quiz

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How Children React To Visual Problems

Children react differently depending on their personality, visual deficiency, and social situation.

Common behaviors include:

  • Homework wars
  • Staying away from any near visual tasks
  • Developing their own visual shortcuts, which may include tilting their head, squinting or closing one eye, or other tricks they devise to help them gain normal vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling tired or even physically exhausted after school or homework
  • Performing a superficial job of reading or near task assignments, demonstrating a low understanding

Why A School Vision Screening Is Just Not Enough

A school vision screening tests the ability to pass the eye chart from 20 feet away. Studies show that 43% of children with vision problems can pass a school vision screening. This is because many children have visual issues that are simply not evident when assessing distance vision. Examples of children who can pass a vision screening are those with double vision, binocular vision issues, and tracking or visual perceptual problems.

Early identification of a child’s vision problems is crucial because, if left untreated, they may cause permanent vision loss. All vision problems can affect school performance and social integration.

What Is A Vision Screening?

An eye chart - nothing in depth, only distance vision.

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Parents And Educators Should Be Concerned About Undiagnosed Vision Issues

One of the main causes for concern about undiagnosed vision problems is struggling with school work.

When a child has difficulty with tasks such as reading and homework, they are far too often misdiagnosed with behavioral or learning problems, when in reality, all that is holding them back is vision problems.

What Are Some Common Conditions That Can Cause School Work Difficulties?

Amblyopia

Amblyopia, commonly called “lazy eye,” is decreased vision in one or both eyes despite the absence of any eye health problems. When one eye is weaker than the other, the brain automatically favors the stronger eye and reduces the usage of the weaker eye. This, in turn, causes the weaker eye to become even weaker. Common causes of Amblyopia include Strabismus (see below) and a significant difference in the refractive errors of the two eyes. Developmental optometrists utilize vision therapy, prism glasses, and special software to correct Amblyopia in both children and adults.

Strabismus

Strabismus, also known as crossed eyes, is the misalignment of the eyes, which affects eye positioning and movement. Left untreated, Strabismus can cause Amblyopia in the misaligned eye, double vision, difficulty reading or concentrating on near tasks, exhaustion after homework or reading, and headaches. Depending on the cause and severity, vision therapy is often the right solution for correcting Strabismus. In cases where the condition is caused by weak eye muscles, surgery may be required. In many cases, surgery is combined with vision therapy for the most effective treatment.

Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence Insufficiency and excess is the inability to keep the eye comfortably aligned for reading and other near tasks. Symptoms of Convergence insufficiency are often confused with behavioral problems such as ADHD or ADD. Symptoms tend to be present after reading or near tasks that require immense effort to get the eyes to work together. Common symptoms include double or blurred vision, short attention spans or difficulty concentrating, covering or closing one eye during reading, headaches, or problems with reading comprehension. Eye teaming problems, whereby the eyes are not directed at the same image, affects an estimated 5-10% of children and adults.

A Medical Study

According to an American Medical Association study, A Randomized Clinical Trial of Treatments for Convergence Insufficiency in Children, after 12 weeks of treatment, 8 (53%) of the 15 patients in the vision therapy/orthoptics group were considered “cured” and 80%, “improved.” In contrast, none of the 11 patients assigned to pencil push-ups and only 1 (8%) of 12 patients in the placebo vision therapy/orthoptics group were “cured” or “improved.”

Children With Focusing Problems

Our eyes are like a camera, automatically adjusting focus from near, to far, to mid-distance viewing. Children with focusing problems (also called accommodation problems) may have trouble changing focus from distance to near and back again (accommodative infacility). They may also have difficulty maintaining adequate focus for reading (accommodative insufficiency) or may be slower at adjusting.

Imagine a child looking back and forth from the board to their book, every time losing their place as their vision tries to catch up. Children with focusing or accommodative problems will attempt to get out of reading, have trouble focusing, show signs of exhaustion after reading, and demonstrate signs of both physical and visual discomfort when reading. These problems can often be successfully treated with vision therapy.

Eye Tracking Skills

Eye tracking skills are essential for reading, allowing the eye to smoothly transition from word to word and line to line. In other areas of life, such as sports, tracking plays a vital role in hand-eye coordination.

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Emotional Effects of Vision Problems on Children

Children struggling with eye tracking skills tend to read at a slower pace than their peers, often losing their place, leading to further frustration. They often spend more time on tasks than their similarly situated classmates, causing them to fall behind in their studies.

These kinds of experiences can affect them emotionally, spilling over into their personal relationships. Feelings of disappointment, irritability, or even failure can lead to resentment of friends, siblings, parents, and educators.

This is why it is so critical to ensure children have regular eye exams beyond standard vision screenings. Early detection of potential vision problems can be treated more effectively, giving kids a more positive, happy, and successful learning experience.

Contact us today to schedule a detailed eye exam.
We’ll help ensure that your children get the proper care they need.

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