Back to school is full of things on the list for parents to do, so many times you don’t even think about getting the students eyes checked until they do the school screenings at school. So here are some of the frequently asked questions around this time of year.
1. Isn’t the school screening good enough? Not really. First of all they only screen approximately every two years in elementary school. What would happen in between those screenings? Also they don’t catch everything, only the worst problems and sometimes a few subtle things but not all of them.
2. My child reads great I don’t think they need glasses. If a child is developing nearsightedness they will read well since they will be set for a near point task automatically. If a child is farsighted, they may still do well if they have a tremendous ability to focus and are high achievers.
3. The teacher moved my child to the front of the class, isn’t that enough? If a child can’t see the front of the room and the teacher moves them to the front to work with that, it basically means they are probably not able to focus for that distance and are becoming nearsighted. They should be seen even if it turns out they only need a small correctly.
4. How often should I have my child’s eye checked? Basically that will be discussed with your optometrist at the time of their first exam. Many children can change quickly and it would be prudent to have them checked every 6 months. Whereas others, an annual exam will be sufficient. They can grow in spurts, much like their height, and you just have to pay attention to the other signs and symptoms to know if they are needing help sooner.
5. What should I be looking for? If your child wants to move closer to the television all the time or squint a lot, this may indicate they are needing correction for nearsightedness. If they rub their eyes a lot or complain of headaches or avoidance of reading tasks, this could indicate a problem with accommodation or farsightedness. Sometimes children have attention problems because it hurts to focus up close and so just avoid doing that and get distracted easily. If a child turns a head one side or the other they may be experiencing double vision and by turning the head the nose or face will block out one of the images making it less confusing for the brain.
Children’s vision is complicated and isn’t always obvious, but learning is so tied to how they see. We really don’t want to impede learning from something as simple as a pair of glasses that can change their world.. quite literally.
Don’t rely on the school screening. Bring your child in every year while in school and make sure they can function and learn at their maximum potential for a good school year and a great life.