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Vision Problems Can Go Unseen

If your child performs poorly in school or avoids reading at home, a vision problem could be to blame. Children who have difficulty in the classroom sometimes have undetected vision problems that affect their ability to learn. Kids often do not realize they have a vision problem, because they assume the way they see things is normal.

If caught early, some kids’ vision problems can be reversed or corrected to put them back on the path to effective learning.

Screenings: No Guarantee

“A child can see very well and still have vision problems that can affect his learning. You can not simply rely on the pediatric or school screening test,” says Dr. Robin Sapossnek, an optometrist in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

“Many issues with children’s eyes are not obvious to the child, parent or teacher, and are not picked up on the typical vision screening given by the school nurse or the family doctor,” adds Dr. Robert Spivack, an optometrist at Sterling Optical in Turnersville, NJ. “All children should have their eyes examined by an eye care professional before they enter kindergarten or 1st grade.”

Signs of Problems

Additional Symptoms
Of Eye Problems

Other signs of eye problems, according to KidsHealth.org, can include:

  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Extreme light sensitivity
  • Poor focus
  • Poor tracking (following an object)
  • Abnormal eye alignment or movement
  • Chronic eye redness or tearing
  • A white pupil instead of black
  • Inability to see objects at a distance
  • Squinting
  • Sitting too close to the TV

“Observe your child often. Children will assume stances to enable them to see well. If they have a problem with crossing their eyes, they will take unusual head positions in certain situations. Note the way a child positions her body with an object and if there is any family history of vision problems,” says Dr. Joanne Fisher, an ophthalmologist at Valley Eye Professionals in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

 “Children with vision problems may be uninterested in reading or may lag behind their peers in reading skills. They tend to bring the reading materialsextremely close to their eyes and may complain of not seeing the board clearly from the back rows. They may frequently trip or bump into various objects,” says Dr. Neelakshi Bhagat, associate professor of ophthalmology at New Jersey Medical School.

For mom Danora Pollard, the aha moment  came during family play. “We were playing ‘I spy’ and I noticed that my (then) 7-year-old was having a hard time spying certain things,” she recalls.“He had never complained. EVER. I took him to the eye doc and he was prescribed glasses. I'll never forget the way his face lit up when he put them on for the first time and realized how much more clearly he could see!”

Gabrielle Holak is a MetroKids intern and journalism student at Temple University.

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