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School Vision Screening ≠ Comprehensive Eye Exam

group of school kids and teacher in classroom

A school vision screening, while a highly useful tool in schools, tends to be limited to testing the student’s eyesight. It provides some information about a student’s ability to read an eye chart that is 20 feet away and it may also have a color vision test, but the simplicity of the test will miss a number of other possible vision problems.

A vision screening tests only for visual sharpness, which means, it can overlook the 15-20% students that have other visual disorders. Your child may pass the vision screening but still not see well enough to read a book. She or he may be “farsighted”, have tracking problems, a binocular vision disorder, and/or amblyopia (lazy eye); all of which may be missed during a school vision screening.

If your child cannot track the words on a page or focus on the pages in the book, she or he won’t learn well to achieve in academia.

The vision skills that are needed for successful reading and learning are more complex than 20/20 vision. They are about more than just clear eyesight; they are about understanding and responding to what they are seeing and processing visually.

Visual skills needed for successful learning:

  • Visual Acuity – seeing clearly at a distance and at near
  • Eye Focusing – being able to maintain clear eyesight at the distance and then flex their eye muscles to focus at near; such as looking at the board and then to their paper at near
  • Eye Tracking – moving their eyes from target to target when reading a chapter or following a thrown object in sports
  • Eye Teaming – both eyes working together when reading or judging distances in sports or school
    Hand-Eye Coordination – using visual information to direct their hands

Children, particularly younger children, might not be able tell you when they are having trouble seeing things. So even if they have passed a vision screening, continue to pay close attention to these warning signs:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • Sitting close to the TV or holding reading materials close to the face
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading, coloring, puzzles and other close activities
  • Frequent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what he or she read
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding

The AOA says that up to 80% of a child’s learning happens through their eyes. Visual problems can develop at any time without you or your child noticing. Make sure that your child gets the best chance she or he can get by making eye exams a regular part of your back-to-school process.

Call our office today to set up a comprehensive eye exam for your child or request an appointment online.

Tags: eye exam, amblyopia, learning related vision disorders, sports vision,

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