by Joseph Gowen | Optometrist, Pueblo, Colorado
How well your child sees is directly linked to how well they learn. Clear vision and eyes that work well together allow children to perform to the top of their abilities and help them gain confidence in the classroom. Undiagnosed eye problems make it hard for bright children to do well in school.
The American Optometric Association recommends school-age children get a comprehensive eye exam at least every 2 years.
School Screenings vs Comprehensive Eye Exams
School vision screenings do a great job measuring visual acuity - how well a child sees from a distance. But because visual acuity is only one aspect of good vision, screenings are like getting a routine physical that only checks your blood pressure.
A comprehensive eye exam checks the full range of vision skills necessary to support your child's academic success. When you visit Dr. Gowen for a full exam he tests your child for all the major vision skills including:
- Eye Teaming - Are both eyes working equally? Or is the brain ignoring a weaker eye, letting the other one pull all the weight.
- Eye Tracking - Are the eyes following text in a straight line? Or do they jump around on the page, making it hard for your child to keep his place.
- Eye Focusing - How quickly can your child's eyes switch focus from the chalkboard to the paper on his desk? Problems accommodating slows down comprehension and makes it hard for him to keep up with the class.
- Visual Acuity - Can your child see at all distances? More than just seeing far away, it's important to check vision up close for reading and computer work.
Over time, if these problems go undiagnosed, a child has to work a lot harder to do well in school. Visual problems cause eye strain, headaches and short attention spans. Many children with visual problems lose confidence in their ability to learn.
Catching the problems early
The good news is if your child has any of these issues, he will respond quickly to vision correction and therapy to strengthen his vision skill set. Many of the treatments can be performed and managed by Dr. Gowen. If your child needs vision therapy, Dr. Gowen can refer you to the best specialists in Pueblo.
When should your child get their eyes checked?
Dr. Gowen may recommend more frequent exams if specific problems or risk factors exist, but you should bring your child in right away if:
- Your child hasn't received a comprehensive eye exam in more than 2 years.
- You see signs or symptoms of visual problems (see the list here).
- Your child isn't achieving up to his potential or is using excessive time and effort to do so.
Good vision is key to success in school. Getting regular comprehensive eye exams will make sure your child has the best chance to reach his potential.