"The purpose for a checkup is to identify and address any vision problems early on, before they may lead to learning problems and falling behind in school," said Dr. Hugh Sauer, an ophthalmologist at CareMount Medical. "This is especially important for children up to twelve years old, for whom the majority learning is done through sight."
A child who can’t see the chalk board or read clearly from a book is at an immediate disadvantage. Struggling to make out words or numbers can be a confidence killer, and worse yet, can be misinterpreted as a learning disorder. "Children often don’t realize it, but impaired or poor vision can keep them from academic success," said Sauer. "Having vision trouble can discourage a child from wanting to learn and prevent them from doing well in school."
In his practice, Suaer recommends that parents schedule a back-to-school eye exam for their child each fall. He emphasized the following benefits of undergoing the annual exam:
- Vision problems can be diagnosed and addressed early.
- Children may find they need new glasses.
- It’s a convenient and easy time to remember each year.
- With clear vision, children will read aloud and learn with confidence.
- Children can see screens better.
It's also never too early to begin testing eyesight; automated screening devices can detect early vision problems in very young, non-verbal infants or toddlers. Once children develop speech, eye charts with pictures, numbers or letters often work best. "The importance of early recognition of potential vision problems cannot be overstated," said Sauer. "Often, if a child has a problem that is not recognized until school-age, permanent visual loss can occur."
In order to ensure success both in and out of the classroom, Sauer recommends parents schedule an annual eye-check each fall.
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