Preparations for the first day of school are many; uniform, school bag, lunch box, favourite toy or book – all in preparation for the adventure and discovery of learning and life at school. But in this excitement and anticipation, many parents overlook the importance of their child’s eyes and vision.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and other authorities recommend an eye examination before a child commences school to ensure that there are no undetected vision problems that may affect learning. A recent study of children in QLD showed that undetected vision problems could cause lower NAPLAN scores compared to kids without vision problems.
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How can an ACBO Optometrist help?
ACBO Member Optometrists aim to identify and remedy the vision problems that are subtle yet serious, before they impact on your child’s ability to learn.
The connection between vision and achievement
Learning to read and write, and using your eyes to read to learn more and more, can be affected by problems of focusing, convergence, eye coordination, tracking eye movements, lazy eye, or delays in development of visual processing abilities.
Behavioural Optometry, vision and learning
Optometric vision therapy is provided when indicated, to improve dysfunctions of vision such as problems of focusing, convergence, eye coordination, turned or lazy eye, as well as issues in development of visual processing and visual-motor abilities.
There is a considerable body of research that documents the effectiveness of vision therapy and other behavioural optometry treatments. The evidence explains how vision therapy and other treatments can improve visual problems which can interfere with:
- Using your eyes to read and write clearly and comfortably
- Learning to read, and using vision to read to learn throughout primary, high school and university
Understanding important visual skills
This list of visual skills and descriptions will help you understand more about your child’s vision and their readiness for school:
- Aiming the eyes, or shifting rapidly from one object to another. For example, reading from word to word on a line.
- Following moving objects smoothly and accurately. For example, catching a ball or keeping your place when you or the book you’re reading moves.
- Seeing with both eyes and combining the information received through each eye to make one mental picture.
- Similar to binocular vision, suppression is using one eye and mentally shutting off the other.
- Turning the eyes towards each other to look at near objects, such as words at reading distance, and then maintaining eye alignment comfortably and efficiently over a period of time.
- Determining the relative distance between objects by looking at them from two different places (your two eyes) at the same time.
Field of Vision
- The area over which vision is possible. This includes motion, relative position of objects in space, contrast and movement sensitivity in side vision. For example, reading from line to line without getting lost on the page.
Organising and recognising visual sensations and shapes and noticing the similarities and differences.
For example the difference between:
- was and saw
- that and what
- 21 and 12
- O, e and o
A little about lenses
Lenses can be prescribed for many reasons and correcting acuity is just one reason. Lenses can be prescribed for near tasks such as reading, crafts and computer use, making vision easier. They also aid slow or poor focusing, imbalance of the eyes and other visual problems. Lenses help make sight clearer – both near and far – and lenses for near can reduce the stress of reading.