Vision health involves more than the ability to see letters clearly on an eye chart. However, there remains a common misconception that a vision screening, whether at school or a pediatrician’s office, is enough to detect all vision problems.
Hyperopia and myopia are the most common vision issues children face. Luckily, these conditions are easily corrected with either glasses or contact lenses. However, some vision problems go beyond requiring glasses and contact lenses. For example, many children can have deficiencies in their visual perceptual skills (ability to accurately process visual information).
Many also have deficiencies in their visual efficiency skills, namely the ability to track, focus and have the eyes work as a team. Eye-tracking skills are important for efficient reading ability. Children with poor tracking skills often demonstrate slow reading speeds, skip lines or words of text, use a finger as a reading guide, and have poor reading comprehension. Children with poor eye teaming skills may complain of words moving on the page, tired eyes after school, headaches, or even double vision.
Parents are often surprised when I explain that their child has a vision problem, even though the child may not need glasses or contact lenses. Instead, children who have deficiencies in their visual efficiency or visual perceptual skills often benefit from vision therapy. Vision therapy trains the child’s brain to use the eyes and the visual system more efficiently for school, learning and general body movement and eye-hand skills.
Children’s vision care starts with educating parents about the importance of annual eye exams, as well as the signs and symptoms of visual issues. Children often don’t understand blurred vision, nor do they realize that their eyes work harder or differently than those of other children. We must inform parents so that they recognize the struggles of their own child. A casual conversation with adult patients about their children and the importance of routine eyecare can be life changing for the child in need.
This summer, Think About Your Eyes will focus on educating parents about the importance of an annual eye exam for children, both for performance in school and overall vision health. The campaign has partnered with pro-athlete and lifestyle expert Laila Ali, daughter of the late boxing champ, Muhammed Ali, to encourage parents to schedule an annual eye exam this summer for the whole family. In addition to sponsored social media posts and interviews with Ali, Think About Your Eyes will spread this message through parenting bloggers.
Optometrists can support Think About Your Eyes by signing up for a listing or upgrading an existing listing to premium. Go to ThinkAboutYourEyes.com/Enroll.