School-age children constantly use their eyes in the classroom and at play. For school-age children, several different visual skills must work together so they can see and understand clearly. If any of these visual skills are lacking or impaired, your child will need to work harder and may develop headaches or fatigue, or having difficulty maintaining attention on tasks. The increased visual demands of schoolwork can make greater demands on a child’s visual skills, pointing out a vision problem that was not apparent before school. The child may not realize they have a vision problem – they may simply assume everyone sees the way they do.
A vision-related problem may cause some of these symptoms:
• Headaches or irritability
• Avoidance of near or distance work
• Covering or rubbing of the eyes
• Tilting of the head or unusual posture
• Using a finger to maintain place while reading
• Losing place while reading
• Omitting or confusing words when reading
• Performing below their potential
Conditions that may emerge during this stage in your child’s life include:
• Myopia or nearsightedness (blurred vision when seeing objects at a distance)
• Hyperopia or farsightedness (blurred vision when seeing objects up close)
• Astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances)
As well, disorders of binocular vision, or how the two eyes work together, are very common. These include convergence insufficiency, oculomotor dysfunction and accommodative insufficiency. Protect your child’s vision. If you notice any of these symptoms, book an eye exam with an optometrist.
Even if you have no concerns, your child should have a complete optometric eye exam at six months, before starting kindergarten, and annually throughout the school years to ensure optimal eye health and developmental progress.