What would we do without our vision? Living in a world that is highly inaccessible for blind people or people with low vision, it is important to make sure our children get the chance to develop healthy and sharp eyesight.
Unfortunately for many children, receiving the proper care and eye tests is not high on the lists of parents and educators alike. In childcare, it seems that the main concerns are often with mental or physical developmental issues, but what about eyesight?
The American Optometric Association has estimated that 80 percent of learning in school is done visually. So, what exactly happens when kids can’t see the chalk board (or white board), or even the page right in front of them? Well, we often mistake them for mental development issues.
Learning institutions have the power to change this. They have the ability to screen students for eye conditions every year, but who is doing it and who isn’t? Here, you’ll find a list of states and what their schools are doing to keep your children’s eyes healthy. Find your state and see how it compares to others!
Child Vision Development
Of all the states, only 15 states require preschool aged children to get their eyes tested. That means the other 35 states don’t. Most people seem to have the idea in their head that if they don’t have to, why would they? When parents think like this, it endangers their child’s health.
The problem isn’t only that most states don’t encourage or provide eye screenings, but that they often stop after preschool, which also comes with its own problems.
Eyes are slow to develop. Though babies are born with eyes that are almost fully grown, there is a lot of developing happening inside the eyeball from birth to puberty. The eye is the slowest part of the body to fully develop because it is so incredibly intricate. Eyes often settle and stop changing at around age 16.
Therefore, to stop screenings after first or second grade makes absolutely no sense. From one year to another, your child’s vision can change drastically. Child eyes outgrow and develop conditions quickly and if they aren’t monitored every year, serious problems can be left undiagnosed until it is too late.
Early eye testing can unearth a world of potential vision problems in children. That might sound scary, but it also means that more treatments to permanently correct their vision are available. The earlier a condition is caught, the more chance there is that your child can overcome the condition.
Lazy eye (or amblyopia) is a condition often found in children. When a child has a lazy eye it means that that eye is weaker and the brain is ignoring it and causing it to shift or cross giving it the appearance of “lazy”. If caught early, before the age of seven, simple treatments can be used to strengthen the eye and eventually correct the child’s vision.
However, after the age of seven, it becomes much more difficult to treat amblyopia. Often, when adults have amblyopia it is the result of not treating the condition early enough. Lazy eye is something that can be corrected and outgrown.
By the age of seven? That’s pretty early on in life; the kid has barely started school! Yes, this is true, but also not true at the same time. Seven years seems like nothing when applied to a person, but when thought of in terms of not visiting a doctor, it is alarming.
You wouldn’t go seven years without taking your child to your general doctor. When you don’t take your child to the eye doctor, the consequences could be just as severe. When children are three to four years of age, eye doctors can quickly pinpoint and successfully treat vision conditions. Wait any longer and you risk permanently damaging your children’s eyesight.
Schools should take it upon themselves to have eye screenings to, at the very least, make sure that their students (of every age) can see. If a problem does arise, then the school can inform the parents who then need to take their children to the eye doctor.
Often times, parents don’t follow through. My question to you is why? Why don’t parents follow through? Children don’t understand how important it is to have their eyes checked, but parents should.
It is the responsibility of the schools to make sure children are getting the most out of their visual learning; and it is up to their parents to follow through with healthcare professionals.
What Can be Done?
Don’t wait for schools to bring your child’s vision condition to your attention, especially if your state doesn’t require eye screenings in schools. Take action! No, we aren’t suggesting a full-fledged eye screening protest. It doesn’t need to come to that.
What you can do is educate people, even the schools. Bring it to the attention of your child’s school principal or dean. Ask them what they can do about it and what the school board’s policy and views are about eye care. Get them to listen to your concerns and push for them to adopt eye screenings for every grade.
Another thing you can do is rally the parents. Inform other parents and encourage them to take their children to the eye doctor at least once a year. Convince them to take even their youngest and new born children to have their eyes tested.
Of course, be sure to take it upon yourself to take your children to the eye doctor. Your children need you for more than just a food and money source. They need you to guide and teach them how to take care of their own health. If the schools won’t teach them how, you can do it!
We all need to shift our attitudes when it comes to vision health, especially when it comes to our schools. When eyesight is an essential tool needed to learn in regular schools, eye screenings for every grade and student should be mandatory.