Vision, the most important school supply

Tue, 09/23/2008 - 10:31am
By: The Citizen

John L Henahan, OD, FAAO
Special to The Citizen
20 percent of school-aged children have an undetected vision problem that can hinder their school performance. Since 80 percent of everything your child learns will be through their eyes, healthy eyesight is crucial for academic and sports success.
Vision Screenings get a Failing grade
School screenings fail to correctly identify around half of children with vision problems. That is why it is important to make professional, thorough eye health care a regular part of your child’s overall health maintenance program.  Children who are struggling with undetected vision problems often fail to progress well in school and suffer in sports performance.
Your child’s vision is much more than just how well they see at distance; rather, it involves the way he or she processes the information they have seen.  Your child’s visual system is a complex process involving the combined effort of more than 20 visual abilities, and over 65 percent of all pathways to their brain.  Any problems in these areas can seriously affect your child’s ability to process information.  Only a complete eye examination will uncover any visual system processing problems.
In order for your child to learn properly, all three parts of their vision must be working correctly.  These parts include vision (need for glasses), ocular coordination and visual perception.
Below are some signs that an alert parent or teacher may recognize.

Symptoms of vision problems can include:

Behavioral Signs
· squinting
· holding books close to the eyes
· frequent eye rubbing
· head tilted while reading
· omitting words when reading aloud
· improper behavior
· spends too much time on homework
· seems lazy
· falling behind the rest of the class
· refers to himself/herself as stupid
· hates school
· no longer tries
Physical Signs
· drop in scholastic/athletic performance
· double vision
· blurry vision
· frequent headaches
· poor eye-hand coordination
• constantly looks down when copying
· holds head very close to reading materials
· moves entire head, not just eyes, when reading
• frequently loses place while reading
Any child with a family history of vision problems is more likely to have a problem.  However, just because the parents have good vision doesn’t mean the child might not have a problem with their vision.
All children should have at least one thorough eye exam by the age of 6.  An examination may be needed much earlier, especially if one or more the above symptoms are observed.  Subsequent exams should be performed at an interval recommended by your eye doctor.
Children often assume that everyone sees the way they do.  They may not realize that difficulty seeing across the room, seeing double, or not being able to focus on things up close is abnormal. 
A comprehensive examination performed by a Doctor of Optometry is the best way to diagnose and prevent vision learning disorders in your child. 
Dr Henahan practices at Spectrum Eyecare in Peachtree City, where he lives with his wife Lisa and two sons Owen (7) and Liam (2).  He received his doctorate in 1991, completed a fellowship in ocular disease in 1992 and was director of Low Vision services at LSU Eye Center in New Orleans until 1999, when he and his family relocated to Peachtree City. If you have any questions call Dr, Henahan at 770 487 0667 or visit his website

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