The experts say 80 percent of all learning is visual, so good vision is vital in the classroom.
As Iowa students head back to school soon, eye screenings are mandatory before kindergarten and third grade, but Urbandale optometrist Beth Triebel says those in-school basic eye tests often miss significant vision issues which may impact a child’s ability to read and learn.
Doctor Triebel says, “For screenings, it checks things like your distance vision, making sure you can see the chart on the board, but the other skills that are really important, such as focusing up close, tracking your eyes together, good depth perception, those things just aren’t caught in a screening and that’s what we try to do during a comprehensive eye exam.”
Studies find one in four children have some sort of vision problem, while 60-percent of students who are identified as problem learners also have undetected vision problems. Triebel suggests parents take their children in for a preliminary vision exam when the child is between six months and a year old.
“After that, a good time to get a first eye exam is between the ages of 3 and 5 to make sure that everything is onboard for starting school, and then every one to two years after that,” she says. Many children below the age of ten have trouble telling an adult that anything is wrong with their vision, so there are a few things for which parent can watch.
“The most obvious warning sign is if you saw them squinting, turning their head, closing one eye in order to see things better,” Triebel says. “More subtle things, if they’re using their finger to keep place when they read, if they skip lines a lot, or insert small words or skip small words where they don’t belong, reversing letters.”
One of the biggest vision issues in recent years is known as CVS, or computer vision syndrome. It can develop with some children and teens as a result of too much screen time with computers, tablets, video games, cell phones and other technology.
Triebel recommends limiting a child to only two hours of screen time per day.