Why is a yearly eye exam as well as a visual skills exam potentially so important for students as they enter a new school year? Over the next couple of weeks we will look at well-designed clinical studies to help us understand the importance of vision, which includes eyesight and visual skills, in learning.
We will start with this recent finding. In a study involving students who werealready diagnosed with a visual skills problem, their top 5 most frequent complaints were:
loss of place while reading
needing to re-read
loss of concentration
trouble remembering what was read.
Does your child exhibit any of those five symptoms? If so, then maybe it’s due to an undiagnosed visual skills problem. A yearly exam is a good place to start, but yearly eye exams do not check for the visual skills problems that can cause those symptoms. Schedule a visual skills exam in addition to the yearly eye exam.
Could your child’s vision be affecting his/her ability to read, write or learn? It’s not just about a child failing. Many bright children perform below their potential because they are being limited by their vision issues. These vision issues could include the need for glasses as well as poorly developed visual skills.
The following survey has been tested nationwide. If your child totals 20 or more points on the survey, then he/she is at a much greater risk for vision affecting academics. Visit the following link to check if your child may be affected by undiscovered vision issues: https://goo.gl/forms/rFnkCBreFBdKNjJy2
25-30% of children have vision problems that interfere with academics
Students who failed vision screenings scored worse on standardized tests
In a clinical study involving elementary-aged school children published in 2017, those who had failed a vision screening scored significantly worse on standardized tests of reading, grammar and punctuation, spelling and numeracy compared to students who had not failed the vision screening.
In another clinical study, near visual skills, not just visual acuity, explained 40% of the variance in reading accuracy performance and 30% of the variance in reading comprehension amongst elementary school children. Put another way, near visual skills were contributory factors in every 4 out of 10 children who performed worse than the average reading accuracy score. Near visual skills were also contributory factors in every 3 out of 10 children who performed worse than the average reading comprehension score.
Checking for a child’s need for eyeglasses is important. Investigating a child’s near visual skills is equally, if not even more, important if he/she is struggling academically because most of a student’s visual demand is within 16-18 inches. We specialize in vision development and its effect on reading, writing and learning.
If a normally-sighted child has two or more moderate risk factors for nearsightedness, then he/she should be evaluated every six months. If two or more risk factors are high, then active treatment to slow down the progression of myopia is recommended. If a child is already myopic, active treatment is recommended and he/she should be monitored every six months. Increasing nearsightedness not only requires thicker and thicker glasses, but it increases the risks of other eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal holes and tears.
Another risk factor for developing nearsightedness is the amount of time spent doing near vision tasks such as reading, writing, drawing, computer work and handheld games. Depending on the amount of time spent, your child may be subjecting himself to low, moderate or high risk of myopia.
The amount of time spent outdoors in daylight is also a risk factor for developing, and worsening, nearsightedness. Depending on the amount of time spent in daylight, you may be subjecting yourself to low, medium or high risk of myopia.
Here’s another risk factor for developing nearsightedness – focusing inaccuracy. If a child displays inadequate focusing levels, then he or she will be either at moderate or high risk for developing, and worsening, myopia.
Another risk factor for developing nearsightedness is a young child’s refractive status. If a child’s visual status is less than age normal, then he/she is at medium risk for developing myopia in the future. If a child is already myopic at a young age, then he/she is at high risk for increasing nearsightedness. Prescriptions can continue to change until the age of 22 years old for most people.
Research shows that there are many factors that contribute to the development of nearsightedness. There is not just one element that causes myopia. Consequently, we should not view any one factor as the singular cause of nearsightedness, but rather we should understand that it’s one piece of the puzzle. One of the known risk factors is family history. If you have one parent who is myopic, then the children are 3X’s more likely to develop nearsightedness. If both parents are nearsighted, then the children are 6X’s more likely to develop myopia.