Kids & Teens Eye Care Center
What You Need To Know As Children Age
Vision is arguably the most important of the five senses. It plays a crucial role throughout childhood and beyond. In fact, experts say 80 percent of what children learn in school is presented visually.
From infancy on, there are important milestones in your child’s vision development. For example, during the first several months of life, a baby can focus only on objects up close. Those objects will be seen in high contrast colors only, such as black, white and red.
But by 6 months of age, your child’s visual acuity should be much sharper, with more accurate color vision and better eye movement and hand-eye coordination skills.
To make sure your child’s eyes are functioning properly and working together as a team during the early formative years, schedule his or her first eye exam at 6 months of age. Otherwise, a lifetime of poor vision in one or both eyes could occur.
Learning-Related Vision Problems
Vision and learning are intimately related. Good vision is essential for students of all ages to reach their full academic potential.
When children have difficulty in school — from learning to read to understanding fractions to seeing the blackboard — many parents and teachers believe these kids have vision problems.
Ruling out vision disorders is the first step in making sure your child is visually ready for school. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are not the only visual disorders that can make learning more difficult.
Learning-related vision problems are not learning disabilities. But specific vision problems can contribute to learning problems, whether or not a child has been diagnosed as “learning disabled.” Identifying all contributing causes of the learning problem increases the chances that the problem can be successfully treated.
Specific learning-related vision problems can be classified as one of three types. The first two types primarily affect visual input. The third primarily affects visual processing and integration.
Eye health and refractive problems. These problems can affect the visual sharpness in each eye. Refractive errors include nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, and can typically be corrected by conventional eyeglasses, contact lenses. Some eye health problems can cause low vision, permanently decreasing visual sharpness that cannot be corrected by conventional eyeglasses, or contact lenses.
Functional vision problems. Functional vision refers to a variety of specific functions of the eye and the neurological control of these functions, such as eye teaming (binocularity), fine eye movements (important for efficient reading), and accommodation (focusing amplitude, accuracy and flexibility). Deficits of functional visual skills can cause blurred or double vision, eye strain and headaches that can affect learning.
Perceptual vision problems. Visual perception includes understanding what you see, identifying it, judging its importance and relating it to previously stored information in the brain. This means, for example, recognizing words that you have seen previously, and using the eyes and brain to form a mental picture of the words you see.
Most routine eye exams evaluate the first of these categories of vision problems — those related to eye health and refractive errors. When functional and perceptual vision problems are identified the patient may be referred to a children’s vision specialist to evaluate functional vision problems and perceptual vision problems that may affect learning.