In the syndicated Parent to Parent column appearing in the Charlotte (NC) Observer (8/16), Betsy Flagler asks, “Is your child headed back to school with an inability to pay attention? Have his eyes, ears and teeth checked by specialists to rule out any health-related links to behavior problems” or difficulties learning in the classroom? While children “generally don’t complain about their eyes…parents need to be aware of symptoms that may indicate a vision problem, experts say.” According to the American Optometric Association, “even though a child may have 20/20 vision, the following habits also can signal less obvious vision problems: loses place while reading, avoids close work,” and “holds reading material closer than normal.”
AOA Survey: Most Teachers Say Vision, Learning Are Interdependent. The News Record (8/15) reported, “A visit to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam is an important part of overall health,” and is especially important for youngsters about to return to school. In fact, “according to an American Optometric Association survey of K-12 teachers, 81 percent believe vision and learning are interdependent.”
Ohio’s News-Herald (9/15, Carrabine) reported, “The American Optometric Association has reported that the majority of children identified as ‘problem learners’ suffer from undiagnosed visual problems.” Indeed, “many schools do vision screenings,” but “there are many problems that can still go unnoticed without a complete eye exam from a professional eye doctor.” In fact, according to optometrist Brian Kane, “school vision screenings generally do not test for the health of eyes such as signs of retina detachments, tears or holes,” and they “also don’t generally check for binocular vision problems, Kane said.”
According to the American Optometric Association, studies indicate that 60 percent of children identified as “problem learners” actually suffer from undetected vision problems, and in some cases have been inaccurately diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Click on the link below to review some of the signs and symptoms to look for that may indicate a vision problem:
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (7/27, Sultan) reports, “One in four children in the US have undetected vision problems which could impair learning, according to the American Optometric Association.” Because “approximately 80 percent of learning comes through a child’s eye,” some experts believe that sending children “to school without good vision could be setting them up for failure or even cause them to be misdiagnosed with a learning disability.” Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by their optometrist.”
MedPage Today (7/26, Walsh) reported that, according to a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics published online July 26 in the journal Pediatrics, “children younger than five who suffer head trauma or an unexplained life-threatening event should have an ophthalmologic evaluation, particularly if there is suspicion of abuse.” The report suggested that “this ophthalmologic exam should be done, whenever possible, with indirect ophthalmoscopy and pupil dilation, preferably within the first 24 hours of injury, because the ocular findings may be transient.” The report noted that “the range of retinal abnormalities associated with head trauma is wide and can include small, intraretinal hemorrhages confined to the posterior pole to numerous, multilayered hemorrhages extending to the edge of the retina.”
MSNBC (3/12) reports that, according to Carmen Bunde, program director with Prevent Blindness Nebraska, “blurry vision in a child can cause brain damage if the vision is not corrected.” In some cases, “amblyopia is to blame. It’s often called ‘lazy eye,’ because weak eye muscles make the eye drift to the side, eventually disrupting vision.” Amblyopia “is responsible for more vision loss in people age 45 and younger than all other eye disorders combined.” The article details how “trained volunteers” with Prevent Blindness Nebraska “screen more than 3,000 low income children a year, many of them…preschool age,” for eye disorders. Children “who fail the eye exams are sent to their doctors for follow-up care.” Approximately “one in 20 preschoolers are referred to” eye doctors “after the screenings.” Experts point out that the “best time to catch eye disorders is between the ages of three and five years old.”
Following a MedPage story, UPI (2/18) reports that, according to a study published in the journal Otolaryngology, approximately “one-fifth of children with hearing loss also have eye disorders.” Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle “reviewed ophthalmologic findings in 226 patients with sensorineural hearing loss who were seen at a children’s hospital from 2000 to 2007” and “found that more than 21 percent had an ophthalmologic abnormality, including 10.2 percent with refractive errors including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and 29 with non-refractive errors.” The authors said that “the cause of sensorineural hearing loss was syndromic — having other symptoms associated — in 11 patients and five had syndromes with related eye problems.”
If one or more of these signs appear, take your child to an eye doctor right away.
What do your child’s eyes look like?
* eyes don’t line up, one eye appears crossed or looks out!
* eyelids are red-rimmed, crusted or swollen
* eyes are watery or red (inflamed)
How does your child act?
* rubs eyes a lot
* closes or covers one eye
* tilts head or thrusts head forward
* has trouble reading or doing other close-up work, or holds objects close to eyes to see
* blinks more than usual or seems cranky when doing close-up work
* things are blurry or hard to see
* squints eyes or frowns
What does your child say?
* “My eyes are itchy,” “my eyes are burning” or “my eyes feel scratchy.””I can’t see very well.”
* After doing close-up work, your child says “I feel dizzy,” “I have a headache” or “I feel sick/nauseous.”
* “Everything looks blurry,” or “I see double.”
Remember, your child may still have an eye problem even if he or she does not complain or has not shown any unusual signs.
Yet another reason why school vision screenings are no substitute for comprehensive eye exams. It is estimated that 80-90% of all learning is done visually……
ScrippsNews (11/21, Dean) reports that a recent study by the National Eye Institute “found that one in 20 students may suffer from a childhood eye-muscle coordination problem called convergence insufficiency, or CI.” Youngsters “with CI find it difficult to make their eyes focus inward or converge.” Optometrist Benjamin Kohn, O.D., explained that CI is “a reading-related vision disorder” which may be caused by “visual stress, such as reading, writing, and working on computers.” He pointed out that the majority of vision-screening tests performed by pediatricians or schools do not catch the condition, because they are designed to “test distance acuity.” Children with CI may express “some sort of block where reading is concerned,” which vigilant parents and teachers should investigate. The study also “concluded that a combination of office-based vision-therapy treatment, coupled with at-home reinforcement, is more effective than home-based methods most commonly used” to treat the disorder.
In continuing coverage from previous editions of First Look, WCSH-TV (9/20) Portland, an NBC affiliate, reported on its website that, according to optometrist David Redman, O.D., some children’s “learning disabilities are actually undiagnosed vision problems.” Dr. Redman explained, “When children are diagnosed with a learning disability, about 60-percent of the time it’s just a visual problem, and then once they get their glasses, they come up to speed.” Dr. Redman said that “a pediatrician’s eye exam is not enough.” In fact, children “need a more thorough exam.” Therefore, he “recommends they get one at ages one, three, and five, and every year after that.”