Are Vision Problems to Blame for Your Child’s Bad Grades?

When kids struggle in school, they could have any number of problems. Some kids have undiagnosed learning disabilities, behavioural disorders, or they may just be bored in class. But some kids fall behind because they simply can't see well enough to perform in class.

What Are Some Signs Your Child Needs Glasses?

Optometrists recommend you bring your child in for an eye exam when he or she is just 6 months old. If you catch vision problems early, you reduce the risk of bigger issues later on.


If you notice any of the following behaviours, or hear your child complaining about any of the following problems, you should schedule an eye exam.


  • Your child avoids close work like reading, math problems, and writing assignments
  • Your child cannot read signs in the distance
  • Your child complains of headaches, dizziness, or nausea
  • Your child continually loses his or her place while reading
  • Your child frequently trips or stumbles
  • Your child has one eye that is turned out or in
  • Your child holds a book too close or sits too close to the TV
  • Your child tilts his or her head or squints to focus


Many children feel frustrated when they have difficulty performing tasks that their peers have no difficulty completing. Frustration breeds lowered confidence and motivation. When you ensure that your child's vision is properly taken care of, you can improve his or her sense of wellbeing and self-assurance.


What Will Happen at Your Child's First Eye Exam?
If your child attends school, he or she has probably already undergone a 20/20 vision test. However, that vision test only determines whether your child can read the blackboard or not. There are a host of other vision problems that can prevent your child from doing well in school. Your optometrist will check for:


  • Amblyopia (difficulty seeing details)
  • Astigmatism (blurred or distorted vision)
  • Eye alignment
  • Eye movement ability
  • Eye reaction to light and darkness (dilation)
  • Farsightedness (difficulty seeing close objects)
  • Nearsightedness (difficulty seeing distant objects)
  • Peripheral vision


It doesn't matter whether your child can read or not, your optometrist can still perform an eye exam. If your child is between 3 and 5 years of age, your optometrist may perform a physical exam of the eyes and do vision screenings. Your optometrist may use eye charts, letters, pictures, or "tumbling E's" to measure your child's visual acuity.


If your child is 5 years old or already able to read, the optometrist may choose to use pictures or words in measuring visual acuity.


While your optometrist will focus on how your child's eyes focus, he or she will also observe your child to make sure your child's brain can correctly interpret what the eyes see. The following issues could also be the cause of your child's poor school performance:


  • Eye convergence: the ability of the eyes to focus on the same point in space
  • Eye movement ability: the ability to smoothly refocus the eyes on near and far objects
  • Eye teaming: the ability of the eyes to coordinate together
  • Eye tracking: the ability to focus on a moving target and switch between two targets
  • Focusing ability: the ability to maintain focus on near and far objects
  • Hand-eye coordination: the ability to use the eyes to guide the hands
  • Orientation: the ability to recognize where one is in relation to others
  • Visual acuity: the ability to focus on small details like letters on a chart
  • Visual imagery: the ability to form pictures in the mind or remember what the eyes see
  • Visual perception: the ability to compare and understand things the eyes see

If your child has any of the problems above, your optometrist may refer your child to a doctor for more exams. They may be a sign of a learning disability, neurological problem, or other problem.


How Should You Prepare Your Child for an Eye Exam?
Talk to your child before the exam so he or she knows what to expect. Explain what the optometrist will do in simple terms. You can say the doctor will shine a light in your child's eyes, have your child look at pictures and letters, and will have your child look through lenses to see if they affect his or her vision.


You can do a practice exam with your child if you sense he or she feels nervous. Take a small flashlight, old pair of glasses, and letter refrigerator magnets as your props. Let your child shine the light in your eyes and have you cover one of your eyes. If you let your child lead the play, he or she will feel more in control and confident before the actual eye exam.


What Should You Do Now?
If you haven't already had an optometrist examine your child, take the opportunity to set up an appointment today. Give your child the best chance in school by diagnosing vision problems early. Contact The Eyewear Place today with any other questions regarding eye exams.


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