Child Vision Assessments
How Children Interpret the World
Children who struggle with their vision very rarely complain. Of course – they know no different to what they have always naturally perceived.
We like to see our school-aged and younger patients every 1-2 years. This is important and allows us to detect problems before they interfere with the developing visual system.
Children with eye problems may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision when reading
- Holding books very close when reading
- Difficulty seeing the whiteboard, or slowly copying words
- Slow or untidy handwriting
- A poor attention span and losing concentration easily
- A reading level that is below normal for age
- Frequently losing place or mixing up words when reading
- Reading only when using a finger to maintain place
- Skipping words completely when reading
- Saying letters or numbers backwards
- Making spelling errors such that words are spelled phonetically
- Forgetting spelling very quickly
- Taking a very long time when doing homework
- Having a low level of hand-eye coordination
- Struggling with team sports or with a ball
- Rubbing the eyes frequently
- Suffering from headaches frequently
- Using one eye only when viewing objects
- Angling the head when viewing objects
Learning through Eyesight
During the early years, a child spends a lot of time learning through vision. If a child is to learn successfully, their eyesight must be clear and viewing objects comfortable. Concentrating on the i-Pad, reading books or watching television become wearisome when vision is poor. Children who are behind in certain subjects at school, or those who have a short attention span often have difficulties with their eyesight.
In certain environments, children with good vision in one eye and poor vision in their second eye may develop amblyopia or ‘lazy eye’. In amblyopia, the brain primarily uses only one eye. The second eye is often suppressed or used infrequently, such that the visual pathways to the brain are weaker. If left untreated an amblyopic eye often has permanently reduced vision.
Because children know no different, they will often have no complaints if one eye is weaker than the other during development. This is an important reason we recommend regular vision examinations for all children, even those with no visual complaints. If your child is having trouble in school, with reading, or if you have a family history of visual problems vision checks should be more regular.
A younger developing eye is generally considered more responsive to changes promoting development than an older eye. In essence, when we pick up visual problems such as amblyopia at a young age, we have a higher chance of a positive visual outcome than when these are left undiagnosed until late in life.
Important factors in a Child’s Visual Development
Clear vision is not the sole factor important in visual development. To read clearly and comfortably children require:
- Movement, scanning and eye focusing skills.
- A good eye muscle function to allow clear and comfortable shifts between distance and near objects.
- Eyes that can follow moving targets well.
- Eyes that can scan objects and move quickly and effectively from one word to the other while reading.
- The ability to judge distances well through maintaining a state of balance.
Some tips to help your child become more comfortable with vision are:
- Ensure light levels are high when completing homework.
- Promote relaxation and breaks to reduce fatigue, especially when reading.
- Ensure your child isn’t sitting too close to the TV or lying too close to objects which require concentration.
- Keep a normal working distance. This means encouraging reading at no closer than 30cm.
- Promote a healthy posture when reading. Slouching may bring objects too close to the eyes and promote discomfort and fatigue.
The Relationship between Eyesight and Learning Disabilities
Studies show that up to 46% of those with dyslexia, attention problems, and learning disabilities may benefit from visual therapy or correction.
A surprising number of both adults and young children with learning disabilities have a concurrent visual problem. In a number of cases specialised training regimes or visual correction can be of great benefit.
For children with these difficulties our Optometrist follows the Behavioural Optometric Approach. We also assess for Meares-Irlen Syndrome and prescribe lenses of unique hues to those who need them.
For parents with a Community Services card, your child receives a government grant of $287.50 once per year. This contributes towards eyesight examinations, spectacles or visual devices. This subsidy may increase for children who meet certain criteria.