The first day of school is a big day for both parents and students. School-aged children walk into their classrooms with aspirations of learning and achieving. But if an undiagnosed vision problem gets in the way of study, scholastic success can be at risk. With the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) estimating that one in four children has a vision-related learning difficulty, September is an ideal time for kids to report for their regular eye exam appointment.
“Kids who suffer from an uncorrected vision or eye health problem could face significant barriers in life within the academic, social, and athletic areas,” said Dr. Alan Ulsifer, optometrist, President, CEO, and Chair of the Board for FYidoctors. “Because there is often no way for a child to know if their sight is bad or not, we strongly recommend parents bring their children in for eye examinations at least once per year. Identifying vision and eye health issues early, always ensures the best outcomes.”
Damage can add up
Catching up from falling behind in school can be overwhelming and damaging to a student’s academic success. Often in Canada, children are misdiagnosed with a learning disability when in fact vision correction is needed instead.
“A child who sees 20/20 can still have a vision problem,” said CAO President Dr. Barry Thienes. Visual acuity is one aspect of our visual system, but the skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex. Vision-related learning problems can cause children to reverse words when writing or copying, confuse the same word in the same sentence, skip lines while reading, or read the same line twice.
“Optometrists don’t just check sight,” he said. “They check how well the eyes work together and how sight is processed.”
Crucial development period
A child’s eye growth doesn’t stabilize until the age of 20. Focus, tracking, depth perception, and other aspects of vision continue to form throughout early and middle childhood. Being able to focus both eyes on an object simultaneously (convergence) develops by about age seven. This is one reason any problems a child has with focusing or eye alignment should be treated before that age.
“Vision is really critical in learning and in fact, 80% of learning is visual,” said Dr. Alan Ulsifer, optometrist, President, CEO, and Chair of the Board for FYidoctors. “People make assumptions that if a kid’s eyes aren’t working functionally that it's about eyeglasses, but there are other things that could be a challenge for children.”
Eye coordination and the ability to track your eyes smoothly are very important elements that help a child learn.
“Those are things that, in a basic eye examination, the optometrist is going to be checking for,” he said. “We want kids to be as successful as possible.”
Stock up and save
Back to school and back to work season means it’s a convenient time to update your eyewear look. Here at FYidoctors, we’re offering kids and students a Buy 1 Pair Get a 2nd Pair FREE on select frames deal (Zoobug, Converse, Pepe Jeans, Disney, and more). Adults and parents can Buy 1 Pair Get a 2nd Pair of any frame of equal or lesser value 40% off.