School-Aged Exams

stock26From reading a story or completing math problems, to playing games during recess, your child is constantly using their eyes throughout their school day. It is estimated that up to 80% of the skills a child learns occurs through his or her eyes. If their vision is not functioning appropriately, succeeding in school and participation in extra-curricular activities will be compromised. With a full comprehensive eye exam, the visual skills required in order to learn to read and write will be fully evaluated.

The basic vision skills needed to function well in school include:

  • Distance Vision: The ability to see clearly when looking at anything greater than an arm’s reach away
  • Near Vision: The ability to see clearly when looking at anything within an arm’s reach, including working on a computer or reading a book
  • Eye Tracking Skills: The ability to follow a moving object, move the eyes from one target to another, and maintain focus on a stationary target
  • Eye Teaming Skills: The ability to make eye movements in a smooth, coordinated manner during activities such as following print across a page when reading or following a thrown ball
  • Focusing Skills: The ability to maintain both eyes accurately focused at a certain distance to see clearly and comfortably, while also functioning to change focus quickly between different distances, as needed when looking back and forth between the whiteboard and a notebook on the desk
  • Peripheral Awareness: The ability to be attentive to objects located off to the side even when you are not looking straight at it
  • Depth Perception: The ability to perceive the world in three-dimensions and judge the relative distance between objects in all directions
  • Eye-Hand Coordination: The ability to process visual information to direct movements so that the eyes and hands work together
  • Visual Perception: The ability to interpret what is seen in the visual environment for quick and accurate identification and discrimination of objects, for comparing similarities and differences, recognizing and generalizing forms, and making conclusions based on visual information

stock27If any of these visual related skills are insufficient, your child will have to work harder in all that they do. This can lead to visually related headaches, fatigue, and eyestrain. As a parent or teacher, it is important to take note if the child struggles with any of the following:

  • Loses their place when reading
  • Avoids close work (i.e. reading)
  • Low level of comprehension or efficiency during reading or other near activities
  • Difficulty remembering what was read
  • Holds reading material closer than a normal working distance
  • Fatigued after completing homework
  • Reverses letters when reading or writing
  • Uses their finger to maintain place when reading
  • Skips or confuses small words when reading
  • Reports seeing “double”
  • Eye-ache, brow-ache, or generalized eye discomfort when reading or writing
  • Short attention span
  • Rubs their eyes or blinks excessively
  • Complains of headaches
  • Turns or tilts their head to one side
  • Repeatedly performs below expected potential

Some children who suffer from learning difficulties due to excessive distractibility and hyperactivity are often labeled as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Undetected vision conditions can elicit these same symptoms, and because of this, children may be incorrectly diagnosed as having ADHD, when in fact there is an underlying, treatable visual problem.

Since changes in vision can occur without any obvious signs or symptoms, your child should have a yearly comprehensive eye examination, or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors are present. One common misconception in this age group is that a school vision screening or pediatrician’s screening replaces the need for an eye exam. This is merely a screening to check at what level of vision your child is functioning at, and in no way should be used as a substitute for their comprehensive eye examination.