Children’s Optometrist Gold Coast – 1 in 5 children
1 in 5 children suffer with an undetected vision problem
(source Optometry Australia 2017).
This is an issue that is close to the hearts of the team at Harmony Vision Optometrists. We founded the practice to concentrate on providing an extended range of vision treatments to people of all ages, this inevitably lead to a strong focus on children. Why?
70% of Classroom Activities are Visual
We use vision in nearly all aspects of life, so this should be of no surprise. What might be surprising is that many vision problems are invisible. Why?
- Vision problems don’t always result in obvious symptoms like eyestrain, blur or double vision.
- Some of the symptoms can be related to performance eg avoidance of reading, reduced comprehension despite good decoding abilities, losing place or concentration during near tasks, falling asleep easily or getting tired during reading.
Childhood vision problems may alter the choices they make about reading and writing
Children are at a critical stage in life where they start to form opinions on their abilities ie what they can and can’t do. We encounter adults who might say “I’ve never been a reader”, or “I can’t do that”, when it seems obvious to us that an undetected vision problem was part of the reason they didn’t find some aspects of learning easy or just not enjoyable.
What if that vision problem had been discovered at that critical time when it first started to interfere?
It is estimated that you are nearly 8 times more likely to have visual dysfunction than eye disease
Some concerns with some school based screenings.
- They are designed to detect the small proportion of children who who have “sight” problems, but are not designed to detect the rest of the 20% (1 in 5 children) who may have some other vision problem.
- Sight screenings are done at Prep, but research indicates that vision problems increase in subsequent years in primary school, suggesting the need for more regular and thorough assessments.
- While the intent of screenings is good for those small number of children who benefit, people may mistakenly believe they are a good replacement for a full vision examination.
Important Parts of a Thorough Vision Exam
Vision problems that are not related to the ability to see 20/20 or eye disease need two important things to occur in order for them to be detected. The first relates to symptoms:
- Ask the “Right” Questions. Your optometrist needs to ask specific questions about classroom performance other than “can you see the board clearly” in order to uncover those symptoms that a patient might not think to bring up, often because they just deal with them, or they don’t realise they could relate to vision. The second thing relates to what sort of examination is done.
- Do the “Right” Tests. If the optometrist were to only test distance sight, prescription and eye health, they could miss vital clues about undetected vision problems. Extensive near visual testing that includes eye teaming (binocular vision), focusing (accommodation), eye movements (tracking) should be conducted because distance “20/20” sight often tells you nothing about how a person uses vision for reading and writing. We can’t assume that just because a child has youthful eyes that they know how to use them!
Contact us to find out more about a vision exam.
When Should A Child Have a Vision Exam?
Accepted practice is a routine exam before starting school and regularly throughout school. Remember:
- Not all vision problems are obvious
- School based sight screenings won’t pick up all vision problems
- Vision can change in the subsequent years. Having an “all clear” result on the first examination provides a good reference point for changes in vision later on.
However, there are other times when a vision examination is recommended:
- Any change in child’s performance compared to their own previous results, or compared to their peers.
- Signs of eye strain, eye rubbing, squinting, getting close to the page, clumsiness and head turning.
- Complaints of blur, double vision and headaches, or simply that they “can’t see”.
Harmony Vision – Experienced Children’s Optometrist
We have a wealth of experience assessing and treating vision problems in children. Our principal optometrists conduct lectures and workshops all over Australia to educate other optometrists in this important area of eye care.
More than glasses
Not all vision problems can be managed with fully with glasses, and that is why we have also dedicated a significant amount of our professional attention and extra training to other visual treatments such vision training, ortho-k and contact lenses.
Discuss your child’s vision with us today.