Back-to-School Checklist: #1: Eye Exam for your Child

September means back-to-school, a time when, as a parent, you try to do everything you can to prepare your child for success in the new academic year. New clothes, school supplies, haircuts and new schedules all play their part; but one of the most important learning tools is good vision, an essential factor that is too often overlooked.

When certain visual skills have not developed fully or well, learning can be difficult and stressful. But your child may not report a vision problem because they don’t know they are seeing any differently from the way everyone sees.

That’s why it’s so important for parents, (and teachers and other school personnel) to be alert to signs that may indicate a child has a vision problem.

Signs of Vision Problems

Complaints of discomfort and fatigue.
Frequent eye rubbing or blinking.
Short attention span.
Avoiding reading and other close activities.
Frequent headaches.
Covering one eye.
Tilting the head to one side.
Holding reading materials close to the face.
An eye turning in or out.
Seeing double.
Losing place when reading.
Difficulty remembering what he or she read.

Learning Problems may be Vision Related

Children who show any of these symptoms should have a comprehensive vision exam with their doctor of optometry. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, undetected and untreated vision problems can elicit some of the same signs and symptoms commonly attributed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), like hyperactivity and distractibility.

School Screenings are not a substitute for Eye Exams

It’s important to note that a comprehensive eye exam is not the same as the basic vision screenings for visual acuity that are done at many schools. A child who can see clearly and have 20/20 vision can still have a vision problem relating to eye focusing, eye tracking, and eye coordination.

The vision skills needed for successful reading and learning are complex, and vision changes can occur without your child or you noticing. The earlier a vision problem is detected and treated, the more likely treatment will be successful. At Atlantic Eye, we recommend that parents bring their children for a comprehensive eye exam early in each school year, to detect vision problems before they can impact learning and behavior.