Mamas, we know how busy the back-to-school season is. We’re living through the busy transition, too. But there are important reasons why having your kids’ eyes checked by a doctor in the first few months of a school year needs to be a priority on your crowded to-do list.
Ever heard the expression “You don’t know what you don’t know?” When you’re a little kid with a vision problem, you usually don’t even know it. I was one of those kids, so I speak from experience. I had no idea the rest of my classmates could see across the room and read the chalkboard with no problem at all. I thought we were all squinting and straining to read the words.
The optometrists at Vold Vision say it’s common to examine kids who don’t realize they have any impairment with their vision. Why? Kids slowly adjust to the decline in their vision so they don’t realize they’re at a distinct disadvantage compared to kids with normal vision. Several studies back up the fact that children don’t always recognize that there is a problem with their eyes.
“We often see children who have had an eye problem that has gone undetected,” said Dr. Emma Hendricks, Vold Vision optometrist. “They don’t realize their eye sight is not normal, and it’s not until they begin to fall behind in the classroom that any flags are raised. Kids are growing and changing over every summer, so it’s really good to start out the school year making sure that we’re at a great place to start learning again and not falling behind.”
As much as 80 percent of a child’s learning occurs through their eyes, according to the American Optometric Association. Undetected vision problems can decrease a child’s participation and negatively impact their performance in class and extracurricular activities.
Additionally, it’s important to be aware that basic screenings from school or pediatrician’s office are not adequate determination of the functionality of a child’s vision. If you wouldn’t expect a school nurse to give your child a thorough medical exam for any other physical ailment, you shouldn’t expect them to act as your child’s eye doctor, either. To protect your child’s vision and detect any vision problem they may be having, you need to take them to a trained optometrist for a complete eye exam.
Vold Vision has the ONLY fellowship-trained pediatric ophthalmologist on staff in Northwest Arkansas. Her name is Dr. Sharon Napier. Not only does she diagnose vision impairment problems, she also has specialized training in issues including weak eye muscles, crossed or wandering eyes, eye infections, eye injuries, visual processing disorders, and the diagnosis of problems caused by diseases like diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and other neurological diseases.
Signs of Eye and Vision Problems
Signs that may indicate a child has vision problem include:
- Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
- Short attention span
- Avoiding reading and other close activities
- Frequent headaches
- Covering one eye
- Tilting the head to one side
- Holding reading materials close to the face
- An eye turning in or out
- Seeing double
- Losing place when reading
- Difficulty remembering what he or she read
Mamas, we know your to-do list is long, and you’re probably running in about 10 different directions during any given week. But please don’t assume you’d somehow know if your child was having a vision problem. Not only would you probably NOT know, there’s a good chance your child wouldn’t either. They’re used to NOT being able to see clearly, so they think blurriness is normal. It’s not, and your child deserves and needs clear vision.
One of the best memories of my childhood is the day my eye doctor put glasses on me for the first time. I walked outside into a different world — one I could really see for the first time. It felt miraculous! Amazing. I felt like anything was possible. We hope you’ll make sure your kids get an eye exam. If they happen to need glasses or contacts, we hope that soon they’ll have that same wonderful feeling, once they start seeing a clear, crisp, beautiful world through new eyes.
To schedule your child’s eye exam call Vold Vision at 479-435-6464.