Around 10 million school children in America have vision conditionsthat can negatively affect learning. This can be prevented by taking kids to get their first formal eye exam with an Eye Dr in an Eye Clinic BEFORE they enter school. A child’s first eye test with an Eye Doctor should be done between ages 3 and 4. At Visionary Eyecare in Pembroke Pines, Sunrise (Next to Lenscrafters) and Davie (Next to Pearle Vision) – our Optometrists, Dr Bearden, Dr Tenn and Dr McCulloh, begin to see children at age 4.
Allen Picture Cards
A child does NOT need to be able to verbalize or know their alphabetfor the examinerto perform a comprehensive eye examination.
There are numerous eye charts for children!!
Lea Flip Chart
Allen and Lea charts have pictures or shapes on them that youngsters can identify. The Broken wheel chartallows the child to tell the examiner which wheel on the car is “broken” . The Tumbling E chart (also known as the illiterate chart) allows a child to just POINT in the direction that the “legs of the E” are pointing in.
Allen Picture Eye Chart
Often our children can not express to us when they are having problems with their vision. They may not even realize that they are experiencing vision problems. Sometimes children will try to compensate for vision issues by closing one eye, rubbing their eyes excessively, squinting, skipping over words or loose their place when they are reading.
Kids may start having difficulty in school due to an “unknown” reason. A recent study indicated that up to 60 percent of youngsters that have been identified as “problem learners” or “learning disorder” actually suffer from an undetected visual condition.
Tumbling E Eye Chart
A vision problem is not suspected in many children because they were able to pass the school vision screening or the pediatrician vision screening. These children may still have visual issues but, they were not detected on the screening. Only a comprehensive eye exam, done by an Eye Doctor (Optometrist or Ophthalmologist) will be able to detect subtle vision problems.
Broken Wheel Eye Test
Vision issues need to be detected and corrected before age 7 to prevent lifelong problems such as lazy eye (amblyopia), eye turn (strabismus), learning disabilities and behavior problems.
This is a story of how an eye exam can actually change the course of a child’s life.
Jennifer is a loving mother of an 5 year old little boy. Her son is absolutely adorable and a really good child yet, in school he was being labeled a “difficult / problem child” and a “disturbance in the classroom”. He often did not want to pay attention in school, frequently “acted out” and even threw his books. He just did not seem to be interested in reading or learning – at ALL.
As a mother, she knew that this behavior in school seemed a bit odd and out of character for the sweet, loving boy that she knew her son to be at home. The comments from the school really alarmed Jennifer that something was definitely wrong.
Her young son had passed his Pediatrician’s vision screening, AS WELL AS the school vision screening but, acting on motherly instinct – she ignored the comments that “his vision is fine” and took him to see the Optometrist, Dr Dawn Bearden, for a routine eye exam. Eye Doctor, Dr Bearden, manages the Visionary Eyecare (Independent Doctor of Optometry) offices next to Lenscrafters in Pembroke Pinesand Sunrise and also next to Pearle Vision in Davie.
During the routine eye examination – Dr Bearden discovered that Jennifer’s son was able to read the eye chart with just a little bit of blur but, he needed eyeglasses to correct the strain that he was feeling while reading. Once the strain was relieved from wearing the glasses full time…the child suddenly became more attentive in school and began reading ALL THE TIME.
Actually, he loved reading SO MUCH that he won an award from his kindergarten teacher for reading!! He even received an award from the school’s Principal for “Most Improved Reader”…he actually read 26 books within 30 days. WOW!!
Jennifer is now a HUGE advocate to have children get eye exams from an eye doctor and for parents NOT to be lulled into complacency by their child passing a vision screening. Her child could have gone through life in the classroom being labeled a “problem” and a “disturbance” simply because he could not see well and his eyes were being strained in school.
Jennifer states the following in her video:
No matter how well a parent THINKS their child sees well or if a child is labeled a “problem” in the classroom because he does not pay attention…it may just be because he can’t see well.
The eye exam has made a HUGE difference and my son has excelled, he is doing wonderful and his behavior is like “night and day”!
“I’m a big ADVOCATE…get your child checked by a (eye care) professional!!”
Parents: Don’t depend on a school vision screening or a Pediatrician vision screening as the only method of assessing your child’s vision. While screenings do help to pick up SOME vision issues – they do not pick up ALL of them. Your child may pass a screen and still have a significant vision problem.
Vision is the MOST important sense for learning. Unfortunately, if a child has a vision problem, has passed the screening and has not had a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor…there could be some problems in school . Often a child in this situation is labeled with a “Learning Disorder”. Another common issue is children that have Convergence Insufficiency (which is when the eyes can see clearly but, do not work well together to see near objects for reading) – they are often labeled “ADD”.
Parents be on the lookout for these issues in your child:
Complaints of Fatigue While Reading
Tilt of the Head to See or Read
Losing Their Place While Reading
Sitting Too Close To The TV or Computer
Be aware that vision problems can not only cause problems with learning…..they can also impact a child’s social, emotional and physical development.
This video has a great recommendation:
Get your child to take a 20 second visual break for every 20 minutes they spend on the computer or watching TV. A visual break means to look away – to a far away object. This can sometimes help to combat the rapid progression of nearsightedness (mypoia) in many children.
There are approximately 4 million children entering school each year. 3.4 million of them will enter school WITHOUT a comprehensive vision and eye health examination.
Many times children may be unaware that they are experiencing any vision problems and thus do not tell their parents they may be having issues with their vision.
A Vision Screening – either done at school or a Pediatrician’s office – is NOT a substitute for a complete eye health and vision evaluation by an eye doctor (either an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist).
Its important for parents to remember that Vision Screenings are NOT eye exams. A Vision Screening will only determine if a child may be at risk for decreased vision. It will not determine what the issue is and it does not treat the issue.
A comprehensive eye exam will determine the child’s precise vision, will evaluate how the two eyes work together and most importantly it will check the child’s eye health. Most eye health issues (like retinal holes or tumors in the eye) may NOT cause any symptoms – until it is too late.
Vision Screenings often give parents a false sense of security because many children may have visual problems or eye health issues and still be able to PASS a vision screening.
Vision problems in children should be diagnosed and treated as EARLY as possible to prevent lifelong visual complications. Many potentially permenant vision problems, such as lazy eye (amblyopia), can be prevented AND corrected if caught and treated early enough.
A common misconception parents have is that a vision screening at their child’s school and/or a vision check at the Pediatrician’s office is the same as an eye exam. Vision Screeningsare not the same as an Eye Exambecause Vision Screenings are vision tests that are designed to ONLY check to see if a child is able to read the eye chart…they do not check for visual development problems or eye health issues.
Many children may have eye health or vision problems and still be able to pass a school vision screening or Pediatrician vision screening. Some eye health or vision problems may go undetected with a vision screening….many of these vision problems need to be detected long before age 7 to prevent permenant lifelong vision problems such as lazy eye (amblyopia) or eye turn (strabismus).
Your child should have an eye exam at ANY age if a problem is suspected. Believe it or not, an eye examination can be performed on an infant, as young as one day old. A pediatric eye doctor (Optometrist or Opthalmologist) can determine if a infant or very young child has any vision or eye health problems by using computerized testing – there is no need for the child to be able to communicate verbally during the exam.
At Visionary Eyecare we like to begin seeing children at age 4.Visionary Eyecare has 2 South Florida eye clinic locations in Broward County for your convenience – Pembroke Pines (Next to Lenscrafters), and Sunrise (Next to Lenscrafters – INSIDE the Sawgrass Mills Mall). If you think your child has a vision or eye health problem BEFORE age 4 – please give us a call at any of our locations and we will be happy to refer you to a pediatric optometrist or ophthalmologist that can perform an exam on your child.
When scheduling an eye exam for your child – it is important to ask if the doctor’s office is set up to deliver vision tests to examine children. Not all eye doctors are equipped or feel comfortable performing eye exams on young children.