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Back To School and The Importance of Eye Exams

The new school year is just around the corner, and parents and students are gearing up to experience new adventures and learn new things. Before the school year starts, however, it is important to remind parents that good eyesight is possibly the most important school supply your child still may not have. Dr. Tanya Jones-Greenwood of Prairie Vision comments, A good education for children doesn't just mean good schools, good teachers and good friends. Good vision is just as important. Your child's eyes are his/her portal to learning. If your child's vision is not up to the task, learning and participation in recreational activities can be discouraging and frustrating. Since children are not likely to recognize that they have vision problems, it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to recognize signs of visual problems in their children and have them checked asap if they notice anything.

Children require a basic set of vision skills in order to be successful in school. The first is near vision. Near vision refers to the ability to see clearly at a distance of between 10 and 13 inches. Obviously, this is important for reading, writing and close work at your child's desk. The ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm's reach, known as distance vision, is important in order to see the board in the classroom, and binocular coordination, which is the ability to use both eyes together, is important for extra-curricular activities such as basketball, football and other sports. Additionally, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye-hand coordination are important for various school and extra-curricular activities. The following are a few examples of common eye and vision related conditions that may affect your child's ability to learn:

One of the most common conditions school age children face is a condition known as convergence insufficiency. This is a condition in which the eyes have a hard time converging on a certain point close up, often causing words to look as though they are blurry or moving on the page. If your child gets headaches while trying to read or do other close work, exhibits a short attention span during visual tasks, and/or has to use a finger to guide reading, your child may be wrestling with convergence insufficiency.

You may also find that your child suffers from Strabismus, in which their eyes do not seem to move together, that the eyes do not face the same direction, and/or that your child tilts his/her head or squints in order to see better. This condition results from muscles in one or both eyes being misaligned or underdeveloped, and can cause severe difficulty for your child, including more significant problems, including loss of depth perception, if not treated promptly.

Changes in your child's vision can occur without you or your child noticing them. This makes it essential for your child to visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. Remember, school vision or pediatrician's screenings are good, but they are not a substitute for a thorough eye exam.

For more information, contact our office