If a child is having trouble in school, isn’t completing their assignments, isn’t paying attention, or has trouble focusing, it is often common practice to consider the cause to be a learning disability. That may indeed be the case, but not always. You should also consider the possibility that the problem could be eye related. On average, one in four children will develop a vision problem that can effect both their ability to learn and their behavior.
Symptoms of Eye Problems to Watch For
Is your child moving closer to the TV? Is he/she holding a book unusually close? Are their eyes sensitive to light? Are they rubbing them or tearing up excessively? These are just a few warning signs to watch out for. Other things are, complaining of headaches or tired eyes, or avoiding reading or using the computer because it “hurts my eyes.” Less obvious signs would be a drop in performance at school, or a sudden dislike of school.
Eye Problems Can be Misdiagnosed as Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities have become quite common in schools, with approximately one in ten developing some sort of learning disability, and teachers have been taught to watch out for them. The unfortunate side effect is that a vision related learning disability may get misdiagnosed as a psychological disorder such as ADHD, causing unnecessary stress and frustration for both the child and the parent. An eye examination at the first sign of learning difficulties can, at the very least, eliminate vision problems from the list of concerns. If the problem turns out to be vision related, your optometrist can then help to find a solution.
But My Child had Vision Screening in School
Many parents trust school vision screening to pick up on vision related problems with their children, but this isn’t always the best benchmark. Although vision screening can and will pick up some basic problems, it is not a replacement for regular visits to your optometrist. Children should get their eyes checked by an optometrist at six months of age, at age three, and again before they begin school. After that, they should have annual eye exams until age 19. As children get older, their eyes are changing as well and eye problems can begin so gradually that they may be missed until it begins to affect the way they perform at school and at home.
Improved Eyesight Equals Improved Education
Since a child’s vision can affect up to 80 percent of their ability to learn, the learning experience can be improved by a trip to the optometrist and a prescription for either glasses or contact lenses. Make sure to give your child input into choices of eyewear, because their comfort level will be a factor in their self-esteem and whether they actually wear their glasses when out of your sight. Once they are comfortable with their new look and outlook, you will likely also see improved performance at school. Remember to continue visiting your optometrist regularly, as your child’s eyes will continue to change and prescriptions will need to be updated.