Childhood vision problems, what to look for

September 28, 2012

It is recommended that children have a vision screening test before school starts. The test usual will pick up on most vision problems, but it can miss others.

Young children may not realize they are having difficulties, so there are things experts say parents should look for in kids.

9-year-old Micaela is having her vision checked. Last year she started having problems in school because she couldn't see well in the classroom.

"It was just too small," said Micaela Thonkhamdy.

Dr. Bruce Schnall of Wills Eye Institute says problems can be missed on school vision screenings especially if kids inadvertently peek.

"They move the occluder over to one side and they peek or they hear the answers from another child," Dr. Schnall said.

The tests may also miss if kids see fine in the distance but have trouble seeing close up.

"They may have trouble changing focus from distance to near, or keeping their eyes lined up when they read," Dr. Schnall explained.

Still, he says kids may not know they're having difficulties.

Dr. Schnall recommends parents look for these signs:
1. Covering one eye when your child reads
2. Turning to one side to see
3. Complaining of headaches
4. Not being able to finish homework

Dr. Schnall says kids may also squint or move closer to see something.

Dr. Schnall also says if any child is struggling in school, a comprehensive eye exam should be part of the evaluation.

80% of learning is visual, and if problems are found, it is better to treat them while kids are still young.

For Micaela, glasses were a simple fix. She is no longer struggling to see at school and is enjoying her favorite subjects; math and science.

"We do experiments and you learn stuff," she said.

And if you think your child is having problems, you can start with your pediatrician or an optometrist, but for more complicated problems, Dr. Schnall recommends they see an ophthalmologist.

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