A child’s vision may change frequently during the school year without the student or parent noticing. Vision includes a child’s eyesight, the need for a prescription as well as visual skills such as focusing, eye coordination, fine eye movements and more. Academic success requires many different moving parts, and one of these important but often overlooked aspects is vision.
Take this FBISD school holiday on Friday to have your child’s eyes checked especially if he/she shows some of the following symptoms: avoidance of reading, excessive rubbing or blinking of eyes, short attention span, headaches, loses place often while reading, difficulty remembering what has just been read, holding materials too closely, words seem to move on the page, seeing double, uses finger to maintain place while reading, reads very slowly, skips or omits words when reading, poor reading comprehension, print appears to go in and out of focus, eyes hurt or feel tired after only a few minutes of reading, makes errors while copying, crooked or poorly spaced writing, feels unusually tired after reading, re-reads words or sentences, unusual head posture when reading or doing near-work, eyes become watery or red when reading.
Pediatricians play a vital role in the management of eye conditions in children. However, some young children can be difficult to assess because of their lack of compliance while some conditions are just difficult to diagnose in a pediatrician’s office. The eight most commonly missed eye disorders in a primary care physician setting are: amblyopia, eye trauma, glaucoma, ocular inflammation, leukocoria, systemic disorders that affect the eye, small-angle strabismus and subtle nystagmus. The visual outcomes of these disorders can be maximized through early detection and proper subsequent treatment. If you suspect that your child may have one of these conditions, contact us.
Dry Eye Syndrome is caused by many different factors. Even how you sleep can worsen the symptoms of dry eye according to a recent clinical study. Aside from how you sleep, how well you sleep can also worsen dry eye symptoms. A clinical study involving 672 participants between the ages of 26-64 years found that poor sleep quality is associated with worse dry eye symptoms.
Many different factors can affect quality of sleep including too much light from LED bulbs, fluorescent bulbs and digital devices. Lighting from those types of “energy-efficient” bulbs affect sleep by disturbing your melatonin levels. If you live in an environment that uses energy-efficient lighting or you use a digital device for more than two hours per day, then wearing glasses that provide adequate protection is recommended. A recently conducted clinical study showed that wearing glasses that protect against that type of lighting REDUCES the symptoms of DRY EYE, STICKY EYES, GRITTINESS, and EYESTRAIN. Other studies also indicate that wearing glasses that protect against that type of light also REDUCES the DISTURBANCE OF THE WAKE-SLEEP CYCLE.
However, not all glasses that are labeled as protective will protect against all of those issues. Some glasses, even ones that are touted as protective against that type of light, do not protect against the entire spectrum of light that affects sleep and dry eye symptoms. If you have dry eye symptoms and you also experience poor sleep, then using the most complete light protection at night may be helpful.
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.
Yet another reason to try to slow down how quickly nearsightedness increases is the risk of retinal detachments. Myopia, or nearsightedness, increases the risk of a retinal detachment by 4X-16X’s; the higher the prescription, the higher the risk. The retina is the tissue in the back of the eye that contains all of the nerves, cells and blood vessels that help you see. Surgery can be performed for retinal detachments. However, clinical studies show that patients who have had retinal detachment surgery complain about lower quality of life afterwards. In other words, the surgery was physically successful. However, the patients still suffered decreased quality of life due to visual difficulties afterwards.
Amblyopia is the most common cause of childhood vision loss. Proper diagnosis of the type of amblyopia is crucial for prognosis and treatment. Oftentimes, the first step in treating amblyopia is glasses. However, some children will not accept the prescription initially because of how their visual system is locked into working. Appropriate identification and medicinal management of these children to improve their acceptance of the treatment is vital in overcoming amblyopia.
If a child passes vision screenings with only the bare minimum requirement of 20/30 eyesight, then there will be long-range consequences. For example, the child’s reaction speed on the road once they start driving would be 16x’s slower than what it would have been had they developed 20/20 eyesight. Vision screenings are important, and seeing 20/30 is pretty good. However, seeing 20/20 is even better, and an actual eye exam can help your child develop the optimal eyesight that they need in life.
Passing a vision screening at school or the pediatrician’s office only requires 20/30 eyesight at distance. If a child never develops better than 20/30 eyesight, then the student will have a difficult time comfortably seeing 8th grade level text later. Vision screenings are important, but actual eye exams are more thorough and even more important. More on this later.
1 in 10 children suffer from a vision problem that affects academics. School and pediatrician screenings only check for the ability to see the board clearly. However, 80% of learning occurs through the eyes, and screenings only check one small part of vision. For example, undetected farsightedness, undetected astigmatism, poor eye-focusing skills, inaccurate eye coordination skills and imprecise fine eye movements can all contribute to reading difficulties. If your child is struggling with school, take time out to check her vision. Start first with a yearly eye exam, and then if necessary, schedule a full-fledged visual skills exam that will evaluate the entire visual system and how it may be affecting your child.
Vision training improves concussion symptoms in up to 90% of cases according to research. Headaches, blurred vision, double vision, dizziness, balance problems, light and noise sensitivity, eye fatigue, and loss of place with reading and close work are common visual symptoms after a concussion. We have helped a number of people with these symptoms. If you know of someone who is suffering from the effects of a concussion, please let them know that we can help.