Like most parents, we have equipped our children for school with all the appropriate supplies like pencils, paper, and glue sticks. But are our children fully prepared for optimal learning?
I'll never forget the day I took my son for an eye exam and he received his first pair of glasses. He donned the glasses and walked outside to exclaim, "I can see the leaves on the trees!" Guilt immediately washed over me. How long had it been that he had not been able to see the full scope of his world?
As the Director of Community Education & Advocacy for Prevent Blindness Georgia and a mother of four, I would be remiss in not reminding you about this extremely important tool for learning and for life.
Research shows that about 80 percent of what a child learns in his first 12 years is primarily through vision so it is very important that we as parents ensure that our children see properly.
Prevent Blindness America and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend annual vision screenings as part of a continuum of vision care for children at ages three through six, with follow-ups throughout the school years.
Prevent Blindness Georgia, a nonprofit organization with a mission of preventing blindness and preserving sight for all Georgians, advises parents to take their children to an eye doctor for an eye exam by age four or before he or she enters school.
The organization conducts free vision screenings throughout the state for about 35,000 four years olds each year in their preschools through its Star Pupils program. Children in many of the preschools across Gwinnett are vision screened. The screenings are funded by individual donors, foundation grants, and through the $1 donation that people give when they get or renew their drivers' licenses.
About six percent of the children fail the vision screening and are referred to an eye doctor for further evaluation. Many of these children would have developed amblyopia or “lazy eye” blindness if their conditions were not diagnosed and treated early. Amblyopia is responsible for more vision loss in people ages 45 and younger than all other eye diseases and trauma combined.
Childhood vision issues are not always apparent because children learn to compensate for their vision loss as they develop. If your child rubs her eyes often, closes or covers one eye to see, squints more than usual, or turns her head to the side to watch TV, she may have a vision issue. See more signs of possible eye trouble in children here.
To be sure your child is “vision ready” to learn, make sure his checkup includes a vision screening which uses devices designed for young children such as charts with simple shapes instead of letters. Each eye should be tested individually with one eye covered at a time. Take your child to an eye doctor right away if he or she fails a vision screening.
For more information about this important topic, please contact Prevent Blindness Georgia at 404-266-2020 or visit www.pbga.org.
Whew, that feels good to get that information off my chest. I'll climb down off my soapbox now!