I’m sure you agree that good vision at school is essential to a child’s growth, development and everyday performance.
Many parents don’t realise that undiagnosed vision problems can result in learning or behavioural difficulties for children. In fact, around 80% of all learning during a child’s first 12 years comes through vision. Whether it be reading, writing, blackboard work, or using a computer; a child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play.
80% of all learning during a child’s first 12 years comes through vision
Children assume their vision is the same as everyone else’s, so it’s common for visual problems to go unnoticed. For parents and teachers, it is important to be aware of the symptoms that may indicate a child has a vision problem, as well as the need for regular eye tests. Their future success depends on their vision at school.
Most vision problems can be corrected
The first eight years of a child’s life are critical for eye development. If problems are not picked up during this time, damage and vision loss can be permanent. If you’re a parent, you should be aware that regular eye checks are just as important to a young child’s overall health and wellbeing as other health checks.
Australian research shows it is likely that 25% of primary school students may have visual problems that are serious enough to need some sort of medical intervention.
By the time kids are aged between 10 and 14 years, about one in six kids will be wearing glasses or contact lenses to correct sight. Vision problems become increasingly common in these years, partly due to the fact that kids have the language skills to say that they may be struggling to see the black/whiteboard or read the type in their textbooks or on their tablet. At this stage, they become aware of their vision at school.
Early detection is key
Early detection is the key to reducing a vision problem’s impact and gives children the best possible start at school.
Allergies, asthma and eye disorders are the most common long-term health problems experienced by Australian Children.
One in ten Australian children suffer from a long-term eye disorder according to The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Their study found that along with allergies and asthma, eye disorders are the most common long-term health problems experienced by Australian children.
More than 411,000 children suffer from long-term eye disorders, in particular long and short-sightedness.
Despite the prevalence, these conditions affecting vision can still be hard to detect and even diagnose and may be written off as other problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, migraine disorders, stress or exhaustion.
Remember, for kids, they may have been living with a vision issue all their lives and so be totally unaware that there is a problem.
The importance of an eye test for school children
Children should have their eyes thoroughly checked by an eye health professional before starting school and throughout their school years. This is particularly important if a family history of childhood eye or vision problems exists and/or if there are any signs that their sight has deteriorated.
There are also problems with basic eye examinations and screenings during these years as kids can have normal or “20 – 20” vision but still have vision problems that may need more intense investigations. Up to 11% of children who pass a vision screening actually have a vision problem that needs treatment!
Red flags of vision problems
It can be hard to detect problems in children’s vision at school. However, there are a number of symptoms that a parent or teacher may spot in a school aged child:
- One eye turns in or out while the other points straight ahead
- Frequent blinking or rubbing the eyes
- Red or watery eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Squinting or sitting very close when watching television
- Tilting head noticeably when looking at things
- Covering or closing one eye when looking or reading
- Difficulty recognising familiar people in the distance
- Difficulty concentrating and a short attention span for the child’s age
- Complaints of headaches, blurred or double vision
- Difficulty learning to read
- Avoiding colouring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities
- Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding
If you notice any of these signs in your child, see an optometrist who has all the equipment required to test school-aged children’s vision.
How to ensure you and your family have good vision for life
Beyond looking after our children’s vision at school, here are some extra things you can do to ensure you and and your faamily have good vision for life.
- Wear good quality sunglasses when outdoors
- Use appropriate eye protection when required
- Know your eyes and understand the warning signs of a problem
- Have your eyes examined regularly by your optometrist
- Eat plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables and fish
For further information or to make an appointment for you or your child, contact Noosa Optical on 07-5447-3711.