Child Vision Assessments
Children and their Interpretation of Vision
Most children with visual problems are unlikely to complain, understandably because they often know no different to what they perceive.
In the early years with rapid growth and the associated visual changes, we recommend school age children should have their eyes examined regularly. Mainly this is to ensure we detect and treat visual disorders before they cause developmental problems.
Some common symptoms of visual problems in Children are:
- Blurring of words when reading
- Holds reading material closer than normal
- Difficulty with copying from the blackboard
- Poor or variable handwriting, often slow
- Loss of concentration, poor attention span
- Reading accuracy and speed below age
- Losing place or line when reading
- Using a finger to maintain place when reading
- Missing out words or letters when reading
- Reversing letters and numbers
- Making phonetic spelling errors
- Learning spelling and rapidly forgetting
- Homework taking longer than it should
- Poor hand eye coordination
- Poor at ball skills and team games
- Rubbing eyes often
- Having headaches
- Turning or tilting head to use one eye only
Vision and Learning
Through the early developing years, an incredibly large proportion of a child’s learning is through vision. Clear and comfortable vision is necessary for a child to learn successfully. Reading, writing, the whiteboard, computers, phones and tablets become tiresome and difficult if vision is unclear. Often, children with concentration and attention difficulties are struggling with their eyesight. These children can fall behind in school.
Often in children, one eye sees more clearly than the other. In certain situations, this can lead to amblyopia; more commonly termed ‘lazy eye’. When this occurs the brain does not acknowledge the image seen by the Amblyopic eye and essentially stops using it to see. This means a child may only be using their ‘good’ eye to see, which develops normally. The ‘lazy’ eye has a poorer development and a weaker connection to the visual centres within the brain: the result being a permanent reduction in the clarity of vision.
Very rarely to children notice blurrier vision in one eye in the early stages of development. This is why we recommend regular examinations of all children, even those who feel they have clear eyesight. This is particularly important if there are vision problems in the family, if one eye seems to turn in or out, or if your child seems to be having trouble learning to read.
It is much easier to treat visual defects early on it development when the child’s visual centres within the brain show plasticity. This means they are more amenable to change than those of an adult.
Clear eyesight is not all that is needed for efficient vision. Children must develop scanning, focusing and eye movement skills in order to be able to read comfortably. Eyes must focus quickly from distant to near objects and back again, and accurately follow moving targets. Eyes must scan instantly from one word to the next when reading, while keeping in perfect alignment. Without two well balanced eyes and good vision, judgment of distance is impaired.
Some tips to help your child more comfortable with vision are:
- Make sure they have adequate lighting when doing homework or reading books
- Encourage regular breaks from concentrated reading. Occasional relaxation will reduce fatigue
- Ensuring your child is not sitting or lying too close to the TV, computer or screens
- Discouraging your child from holding reading or writing too close – 30cm is likely close enough
- Discourage your child from slouching over the table or desk, or reading while lying on the floor. This brings the work too close to the eyes
Learning Difficulties and Vision
Research shows that 46% of those identified with reading problems, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or learning difficulties can be helped by certain vision treatment.
A number of children and adults with learning difficulties have a visual problem which contributes to their learning difficulty. Very often these problems can be corrected with appropriate spectacles and visual training.
We use the Behavioral Optometric approach to examining and prescribing. We also screen for Meares-Irlen Syndrome and prescribe Coloured Lenses for this condition. We are the first New Zealand Optometrists to use Colour Lens Technology and Diagnostic Instrumentation.
For parents with a Community Services card, your child is eligible for a government to the value of $287.50 once per year towards vision examinations, glasses or other visual aids. When certain criteria are met this subsidy is increased.