Though many schools perform their own vision screenings on students, these are not comprehensive exams. Roughly 75% of these screenings miss notable vision problems, and many children do not receive eye examinations outside of school.
To make matters worse, refractive errors like myopia worsen as your child’s vision develops, leaving them with poor eyesight as adults. To effectively control myopia and detect other conditions, yearly exams by a professional should be part of the back-to-school process.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, and Sarah Quan, OD, perform comprehensive annual or back-to-school eye exams to reveal any issues like myopia that could cause problems with your child’s performance in the new school year.
Why professional exams are necessary
Contrary to popular belief, clear vision and 20/20 vision do not guarantee perfect eyesight. A child can easily make out the letters on a visual acuity test, only to struggle with hand-eye coordination or eye tracking.
During school vision screenings, students are filtered through rather quickly, with each “exam” barely scratching the surface of potential vision issues This leaves many children to fall through the cracks, leading them to lag behind in their studies, struggle with games and sports, or even develop “behavioral problems.”
Signs of vision problems in children
More than 150 million Americans struggle with poor eyesight, and this is only counting those with refractive errors like myopia and astigmatism. In addition to refractive errors, other conditions like strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye) begin developing in childhood, making it important for children to be diagnosed and treated before the eyes finish growing.
Early symptoms of vision problems are difficult to detect in children. Individually, these signs might be misattributed to bad behavior or other factors, but together, they paint a clear picture of a child struggling to see.
- Frequent eye-rubbing
- Tilting the head to one side
- Sitting too close to the television
- Complaints of headaches and fatigue after school
- Holding papers, books, or screens close to the face
- Avoidance of certain activities like sports or reading
- Difficulty remembering what they’ve read
- Excessive blinking or tearing up
- Short attention span
- Covering one eye
The earlier you get these problems diagnosed and treated, the better off your child will be. After receiving the proper eyeglasses, contacts, or surgery, they’ll be able to make the most of their education and engage with the world around them.
When to schedule a back-to-school eye exam
Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam. If there is an issue, there needs to be a buffer period so that you can start treatment or get your child accustomed to wearing glasses or contacts before the new school year begins.
A complete eye exam should evaluate every kind of visual skill, including:
- Visual acuity, or the ability to see at near, middle, and far distances
- Visual perception, or the ability to understand what has been read or seen
- Hand-eye coordination, or the ability to use visual information to move the hands
- Eye focusing, or the ability to quickly and clearly switch focus at different distances
- Eye teaming, or the ability to move both eyes together
- Eye tracking, or the ability to keep the eyes on a moving target
Your doctor might also test your child’s recognition, comprehension, and retention skills. These allow your child to identify letters, understand words, and recall what they’ve read. Although learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD can also affect these skills, it’s important that you rule out vision problems first.
Getting ready to send your kids back to school? The team at Harlem VistaSite Eye Care is proud to offer comprehensive eye exams for people of all ages, including children. To schedule an appointment, call 646-453-6506 or book online today.