A vision screening is not an eye exam, whether performed by a school nurse or parent volunteer, or by a pediatrician or pediatric assistant. Those tests merely reveal whether a child has difficulty seeing the board. As an optometrist, I often liken this to taking someone’s blood pressure and then declaring that they are healthy. BP testing is important, but it doesn’t tell us the entire story.
On another note, not all learning problems are vision problems. However, studies consistently show that children with learning problems have a disproportionately high degree of problems with “school-related vision skills (focusing, tracking, eye coordination, eye teaming).”
A recent study conducted at the University of Waterloo in Canada evaluated children who had been identified by their school as learning disabled. These children were ages 6-12, and none had ever had an eye exam. The results were startling:
- 43% had reduced depth perception (problems with the eyes working together)
- 67% had signs of “binocular dysfunction” at near (eye teaming)
- 36% had signs of “convergence insufficiency (eye coordination)”
- 38% had deficient focusing skills
- 60% of patients failed two or more of those tests
Children with reading problems who require individual education plans (IEP) are at high risk for vision problems. Unchecked by a doctor of optometry, they could continue to struggle with undiagnosed vision problems. Ultimately, this could lead to poor scholastic performance, self-esteem issues, frustration, and anxiety.
It is estimated that 80% of what a child learns is through the visual system. If you have a child struggling in school, teach a child struggling in school, or know a child struggling in school, bring them in to see Dr. Cohen for a comprehensive pediatric eye exam to ensure that vision is not an obstacle to learning. On a broader note, every child’s eyes should be checked before they begin their formal