Vision and performance in school are closely related, so it’s important for your child to receive a comprehensive vision screening from a developmental optometrist each academic year. The visual skills developed in early childhood set the foundation for future learning and help children achieve their full potential. With strong visual skills, your children approach classroom activities with more clarity and confidence.
The Importance of Going Beyond Standard Eye Exams for Children
The traditional vision screeners many children receive in school are great for identifying basic eyesight problems, but they don’t offer a holistic, in-depth look at a child’s visual health—most of them only uncover about 5% of the vision issues common to children. If your child has visual deficiencies that can’t be solved by prescribing glasses, a standard screening will be little help.
A vision screening with a developmental optometrist, by contrast, tests for abilities directly related to your child’s academic success: visual acuity at all distances, accurate eye teaming and eye movement, processing and integrative skills, and comfort while focusing.
More than half of children thought to have difficulty learning are in fact experiencing undetected vision issues. Annual eye exams provide an ongoing look into your child’s visual health and need for glasses, and developmental vision evaluations make sure they’re consistently able to succeed visually for up-close reading, writing, and other classroom activities. In addition, developmental visual evaluations will assess eye tracking skills and depth perception, which contribute to your child’s safety in class and on the playground.
When Should Children Have Their Eyes Examined by a Developmental Optometrist?
The American Optometric Association recommends that children have a complete visual evaluation at six months of age, at age three, and before they enter first grade (at about age five or six). Even if vision therapy isn’t found to be necessary after any of these screenings, children should still check in with a developmental optometrist every year to look for any possible developing conditions.
What to Expect During a Screening
The details of each screening vary depending on your child’s age, but you can expect a developmental optometrist to ask for a history of their visual and medical health, including information about their birth and any complications during pregnancy, along with an overview of their academic performance and any challenges to learning. The doctor will then conduct a screening test of some skills needed in the classroom, such as eye tracking, focusing, and teaming, and determine if a more in-depth assessment with specialized instruments is needed—for instance, to measure visual reading and writing skills.
Tell the doctor if your child experiences delayed motor development, excessive blinking, problems with eye contact, poor tracking skills, difficulty with vision screening tests in school, or any other eye problems.
Bring your infant in for a vision and eye health examination at six months of age to test their ability to focus, perceive depth, and track and team their eyes. A developmental optometrist will test their responses to light, their ability to fixate on and follow objects, and their ability to discern objects at a fixed distance. They’ll also measure your infant’s risk for lazy eye and prescribe glasses if necessary.
Developmental optometrists perform similar tests for preschool-age children, testing for visual acuity, focusing abilities, and eye teaming skills. Your doctors will also check for congenital cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye) and common vision conditions like lazy eye, eye misalignment, convergence insufficiency, focusing problems, poor depth perception, color blindness, and other eye health issues in addition to the processing skills needed for cognitive activities like coloring, completing puzzles, and letter, number, and shape recognition.
Why Comprehensive Vision Exams Are Important for Children
From the moment your child is born, they use their visual skills to learn and develop. Vision guides several developing skills. They need healthy vision at a very young age to reach, grab, crawl, play with toys, and learn how to speak. As children enter preschool and graduate to elementary school, their academic performance will suffer if they can’t read the whiteboard or text on a page accurately and efficiently, which is dependent on eye focus, tracking, teaming, and processing.
Make sure your child has a fair chance of excelling in the classroom with the healthy visual skills they need for reading, writing, and communicating with their peers.
Contact OCVT Today
It’s our mission to make sure every infant and child has the visual skills they need to properly develop and perceive the world around them. Instead of relying solely on the standard visual screeners offered at school, scheduling a developmental vision screening for your child will help them succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. We encourage you to schedule a free consultation with us so one of our developmental optometrists can design a plan for maintaining your child’s visual health.