As the summer draws to a close, many parents find themselves buying school supplies, shopping for new clothes for the new year, and trying to manage all the various details so that their children can have a smooth transition into their new grade at school. Each new year can provide challenges for children for a variety of reasons, both good and bad. Be sure an uncorrected vision problem isn’t one of them! Annual eye health examinations are a must for every child.

A vision screening is not the same as a comprehensive eye health examination. Some schools provide periodic vision screenings for their students. A pediatrician or other primary care physician may also do a vision screening as part of a school physical. While vision screenings can detect some vision problems, they can often miss more than they find. Such screenings sometimes create a false sense of security for people who “pass” the screening, but who actually have a vision problem, thereby delaying further examination and treatment. This is a major concern, and it’s why we recommend your child receives a comprehensive eye exam annually.

It is estimated that 10 percent of schoolaged children have undiagnosed visual problems and are likely suffering academically as a result. Of course, not all learning problems are related to eyesight, but many are, so analysis of the visual system is an important step in determining the source of any learning disabilities.

Conditions such as dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other learning disabilities are often elusive diagnoses since each child will manifest their symptoms differently. A thorough visual system analysis is critical to fully understanding the underlying problems. Your eye doctor will communicate with other health-care providers, such as the child’s pediatrician, psychologist, and school nurse, to accurately combine all findings to better arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

Ocular functioning, such as eye tracking and improper eye movements, may be the cause of academic problems, even if there is no need for prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Many children with academic problems related to vision may have 20/20 sight on screening tests at school and in pediatrician’s offices and appear to have “normal” eyes. This is one further reason that a comprehensive examination by an eye doctor is important starting at six months of age.

Sports Performance and Safety

Just as in the process of learning, the ability to perform athletically is largely governed by our visual abilities. The majority of the information that we receive and process while participating in sports comes from eyesight. Beyond our normal visual acuity on the eye chart, exceptional athletes also display exceptional dynamic visual acuity:

  1. Depth perception
  2. Peripheral vision
  3. Eye-hand coordination and reaction time

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A comprehensive eye health and vision examination includes:

  1. Patient and family health history
  2. Visual acuity measurement
  3. Preliminary tests of visual function and eye health including depth perception, color vision, peripheral vision and response of the pupils to light
  4. Assessment of refractive status to determine the presence of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism
  5. Evaluation of eye focusing, eye teaming and eye movement abilities
  6. Eye health examination
  7. Additional tests as needed

Time to schedule that comprehensive exam? Click here to request an appointment today.

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