It is recommended that children receive eye exams before entering school and then every one to two years thereafter. However, the American Optometric Association states that almost 25 percent of kids in school have problems with their vision but are not receiving regular eye exams to detect these issues. In addition, only about one-third of kids receive eye exams before they enter school, which is a problem.
It used to be that the majority of people with vision issues were adults over the age of 40 and it wasn’t as common for children to have vision problems, but now more and more kids are developing vision problems and it’s believed one of the reasons for this is because of technology.
Years ago, we didn’t have computers, iPads, cell phones, or the vast array of gaming systems that are so common today. All of this new technology is the norm for kids nowadays and it’s causing vision problems, such as myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness, in children.
Besides the abundance of technology that surrounds everyone these days, children can develop vision and eye health problems for a number of different reasons, but the problem lies in the fact that these vision problems are not being detected due to lack of proper vision and eye care.
School Vision Screenings
Eye and vision problems in children that go undetected can lead to learning problems and even behavior problems. If the child is having difficulty seeing, their education can suffer and frustrations can abound which can lead to the child acting out in school and at home.
In an attempt to detect and bring attention to these vision issues, many schools now offer vision screenings to their students, which go a long way toward diagnosing vision problems, but there are also some drawbacks to these vision screenings.
One drawback, and a huge problem, is that parents often rely solely on these school screenings to determine the health of their children’s eyes and vision, so they don’t take them for regular eye exams with an eye doctor. The problem with parents doing this is that the screenings usually only test for distance vision problems, so while some kids may not have a problem with their distance vision, they may have other vision issues such as problems with their near vision, color blindness, lazy eye, or other issues.
The second drawback to school screenings is that if these other vision issues go undetected because the school screenings are not catching them and the children are not receiving adequate eye health care from a doctor, then the issues can progress and get worse or they can lead to misdiagnosis of other problems, such as behavioral issues.
Other Reasons Eye Problems Go Undetected
Many parents assume that if their child is having difficulties seeing that they will speak up and say something about it, but unfortunately, that often doesn’t happen. Kids with vision problems may not realize that there is a problem. Although they may not be able to see things clearly, they don’t realize that means there is something wrong because it seems natural to them.
For kids who don’t realize that they have a vision problem, things can go several different ways for them. They either say something casually about not being able to see something which catches the attention of a parent or teacher; they deal with not being able to see clearly and go on as usual; or they begin to have trouble focusing and become frustrated, leading to behavior problems or misdiagnosed attention problems.
There are things that parents and teachers can keep their eyes open for that will alert them to the possibility that the child is having vision issues. If children complain about having headaches a lot, they get tired easily during school hours, or their grades begin to slip in school, these problems could all be attributed to vision problems.
Getting Eye Exams
As was mentioned earlier, it is recommended that children have their eyes checked before entering kindergarten and then every one to two years thereafter. If more children were getting their eyes checked regularly then more vision problems would be detected early and corrected.
Whether or not your child has a vision problem such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you can start incorporating a daily vitamin supplement into their diet to help strengthen their eyes and keep them healthy.
The important thing to remember is that while school vision screenings are helpful at detecting some vision problems in children, they don’t detect all vision problems, so you should always be sure to have your child’s eyes checked regularly so that any problems can be detected as early as possible.