An area often overlooked in a child’s overall health and ability to perform well academically is vision. If there are no severe signs of vision problems that are readily detected by your physician, then it’s my opinion that a child should have their first visual examination at three years of age. I feel it is imperative that children should not enter kindergarten without having a complete visual examination.
As rare as it is, eye diseases do occur in children and could go undetected and untreated without prior diagnosis. More importantly, is the parents’ assumption that their child has no visually related problems because the child has no complaints or their child passed a brief visual screening performed by the school or a non-eyecare professional. These screenings don’t check for eye health nor do they have the sophisticated equipment needed to accurately diagnose your child’s visual condition.
One of my passions is working with children so what I’m about to tell you comes from my heart. Your child may not possess the visual skills necessary to learn effectively. When parents make the determination that their child is seeing properly rather than having a qualified eyecare professional make that determination through proper testing, they may be cheating their child’s academic performance.
In the early school years, children learn a lot visually by what they see, especially, in school. If they are struggling to read their books or to see the chalkboard at their seat, this could put undue stress on their visual system, so much so that they lose interest in the subject material, their grades begin to suffer, and they begin to have a lack of self esteem.
In many cases, these children become behavioral problems in school, sometimes being diagnosed as attention-deficit or hyperactive, when in fact the majority of their problems may be visual. I am not dismissing the problems of attention deficit or hyperactivity because I, myself, am a survivor of attention-deficit. I am just letting you know that in my years of working with children, I have often found that vision problems seem to be a component that are often linked to attention deficit and hyperactivity.
When a child can’t see well, they inwardly feel that other children are better than they are. In addition, it has been my experience in dealing with children that just because a child has 20/20 sight, he or she may still have significant visual deficiencies. They may include:
* Having problems shifting their eyes from reading to a distance position.
* Losing their place while reading, particularly, in going from one line to another.
* Rereading the same line over and over.
* Frequent reversals in numbers or letters especially if this occurring beyond the second grade.
* Having to use a ruler or finger to keep their place while reading.
* Having to assume awkward postures to be able to read, i.e. tilting their head to one side and covering one eye with their hand, reading while their head is laying on the table, reading material closer than 10 inches, or holding material too far away.
* Taking 2 hours to complete 20 minutes of homework.
Vision problems detected early can mean the difference between academic success or the frustration which leads to failure.
Parents, for your children’s sake, please have their vision tested by an eyecare professional.
Dr. Robert Rothbard
Rancho Cucamonga Optometric
10598-B Baseline Road, Alta Loma, CA 91701