Does your child have trouble reading at school? If so, he or she may have undiagnosed problems with their vision. Even if a child has passed the vision screening at school, he or she may still have complications that go unnoticed during routine scans. According to the American Optometric Association, the eye chart test given in schools checks only for visual acuity – just one of seven skills needed to read properly. This results in many children “passing” the vision test who still need further testing and correction. Experts recommend children undergo a comprehensive optometric exam that tests not only for visual acuity, but also:
- Visual fixation – the ability to aim the eyes accurately, whether it’s on a stationary photo in a history textbook or on a moving line of text in a PowerPoint presentation.
- Accommodation – the ability to adjust eyes’ focus as the distance of an object in a person’s line of sight changes. This is especially important in school, where students often have to shift their focus from their textbooks to the chalkboard across the room.
- Binocular fusion – the ability to unify information gathered from each individual eye. If a child’s vision is not aligned correctly, the brain will begin to compensate by favoring one eye over the other, causing a lazy eye.
- Convergence – the ability to look at a nearby object by turning the eyes inward. This skill is important when children focus on doing homework or reading a book.
- Field of vision – the complete area able to be seen by a person’s eyes. Children must be tested for the appropriate levels of peripheral and central vision to ensure they can see and read well in the classroom.
- Perception — the ability to process and recognize objects in a person’s field of vision. Proper vision skills are required for children to be able to consistently recognize shapes and other repeated images, like letters or numbers.
Once a child’s vision has been thoroughly tested, he or she will be given corrective lenses that address any diagnosed problems. This often removes a huge hurdle in the reading process and makes any additional reading therapies more effective. For more information about comprehensive visual exams for students, talk to an optometrist on your vision plan. You can get significant savings on an exam that will set your child up for success in school, and in life.