How is the child’s vision? That was a common question to our school’s s Response to Intervention (RTI) Committee, when a struggling student was referred to the committee. Our school nurse, a key contributor to RTI, would give an update to the team on the most recent vision screening. If necessary, she would re-screen the child to be sure to rule out vision issues as a reason for the child’s classroom difficulties. A student may indeed be struggling in class if they are having vision or hearing issues. Thank you, Miss Peggy and School Nurses, everywhere!
I have a personal connection with school vision screenings. In the mid 60’s it was a school nurse that discovered that I could not see out of one eye and recommended to my parents to have my vision checked. I was diagnosed with amblyopia, the most common cause of vision problems in children. Commonly known as “lazy eye”, one eye is weaker that the other because the brain area for one eye didn’t fully develop. This causes the loss of the eye to see details. If detected early, it is reversible. Unfortunately, in my case, it resulted in permanent vision loss. My disability has made me hyper-vigilant to be sure young children get eye exams at a young age.
When should your child’s vision be tested?
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about age 5 or 6.
For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Your child’s pediatrician should checks your child’s eyes during routine exams and will make a referral if a problem is suspected. School screenings, although valuable. should not be a substitute for an eye exam completed by a doctor.
How important are eye exams to learning?
Healthy vision is essential to a child’s ability to learn and to reach their academic potential. In order to be successful in school your child needs the following basic visual skills for learning:
- distance vision
- near vision
- eye movement skills
- focusing skills
- peripheral awareness
- eye/hand coordination
At your child’s next routine physical exam, be sure to check with your doctor if a vision problem is suspected. They may even refer you to an eye doctor that specialized in pediatrics. Good vision is key to a child’s physical development and success in school.