I know it is the height of summer. But the "back to school" season is right around the corner. New schools, new teachers, and new challenges await every student. Good vision is among the many skills children need to read, write and learn their best. Many parents do not realize that vision is more than being able to see the words on a page or board clearly, but it is actually a form of fine-motor skill. Just like it takes years to master the fine motor skill of controlling the tiny muscle of the fingers to write legibly, it takes years to master the coordination of the even smaller muscles that move and focus the eyes.
In addition to acceptable visual acuity, every child needs to have the following vision skills for effective reading and learning in school.
- Eye tracking — the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, moving the eyes from word to word in a book, or following a moving object like a thrown ball.
- Eye Focusing — the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision at different distances, such as when looking from the board to a paper on the desk and back. Eye focusing allows the child to easily maintain clear vision over time like when reading a book or using a computer.
- Eye teaming — the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving the eyes along a printed page, and to be able to judge distances and see depth for class work and sports.
- Eye-hand coordination — the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands when drawing a picture or trying to hit a ball.
- Visual perception — the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas and to understand and remember what is read.
If any of these visual skills are lacking or not functioning properly, a child will have to work harder, leading to problems. School nurses and teachers need to be alert for symptoms that may indicate a child has a vision problem. Generally, a child will not report a vision problem because it is “normal” for them and they may think the way they see is the way everyone sees.
- Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
- Avoiding reading and other close activities
- Frequent headaches, especially after near work
- 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
If you have a child or work with a student who exhibits any of these behaviors, an eye exam in necessary. Call us at 813-792-0637 to schedule an exam for either the Westchase or New Tampa location.
If you have any additional questions about children’s vision, the connection between vision and learning, or management of children’s vision issues, please feel free to email me at Doc@BrightEyesTampa.com.