What is School Age Vision?
It is estimated that about 80% of what we learn depends upon our visual processes so it is important to help children acquire good vision. Without a properly functioning visual system, a child in a good school with good teachers cannot be expected to perform at or near their potential in the classroom, during sports or recreational activities.
In order to determine whether or not a child has good vision, a visual perceptual or vision skills examination is needed to determine whether or not (s)he is experiencing any of a number of vision problems. Many children with 20/20 visual acuity can have significant vision problems.
Here are the basic vision skills needed for school performance:
- Near Vision, or seeing clearly and comfortably at 25-33 centimeters
- Distance Vision, or seeing clearly and comfortably beyond arm’s reach
- Eye Movement Skills, including aiming eyes accurately, moving them across a page, and shifting them quickly and accurately from one place to another
- Focusing Skills, allowing one to keep both eyes accurately focused to see clearly and change focus quickly from near to far, far to near.
- Peripheral Vision, being aware of things on the side while looking straight ahead
- Eye/Hand Coordination, allowing one to use the eyes and the hands together to perform tasks
If these or other visual skills are lacking, your child will have to work harder. Headaches, eye strain and fatigue are some of the possible results.
Many times, if there are developmental delays or symptoms of visual problems, a child will not grow out of them. Often they will build coping mechanisms or patterns instead. By getting your child tested in comprehensive visual skills, you will either know that your child is right on track, or that your child needs intervention. Either way, his/her needs can be met. The earlier dysfunctions are identified and treated, the less likely the individual will struggle in school and other child-centred environments such as the sports field. This also means less possible ramifications such as negative emotions, misdiagnosis of disorders such as ADD, low self-esteem, special education services, etc.
Be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem:
- Loses place while reading
- Avoids close work
- Holds reading material closer or further than normal
- Has headaches
- Tends to rub eyes
- Turns or tilts head to use one eye only
- Uses finger to keep place while reading
- Omits or confuses small words when reading
- Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing
- Consistently performs below potential in academics and/or sports
- Squints to see when no bright lights or glare
- Lack of interest or avoidance of books, puzzles and other visual tasks
- Closing or covering one eye often
The typical screening often does not uncover developmental vision problems. Early detection and periodic eye exams with a Developmental Behavioural Optometrist can save years of struggle!
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