Parents need to be aware of effects of visual impairment on learning, says AOA

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a visit to the optometrist before heading back to the classroom.

St. Louis-According to studies, 86% of students start school without having their first eye examination. This may impair children’s ability to perform daily tasks at school such as reading, writing, and computer skills. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a visit to the optometrist before heading back to the classroom.

Some experts believe that approximately 80% of learning comes through a child's eyes. According to the AOA’s 2009 American Eye-Q survey, 88% of respondents did not realize that one in four students have a visual impairment.

“Because a child's vision may change frequently, regular eye and vision care is crucial to a student's classroom success," said Michael Earley, OD, the AOA's vision & learning specialist. "Unfortunately, most parents are not including eye exams as part of their child's back-to-school health check-up."

According to the Eye-Q survey, 58% of parents did not take their child for an eye exam until age 3 years or older. The AOA recommends that children have their first eye assessment at 6 months of age, then comprehensive eye exams beginning at age 3, before a child enters school, and then every 2 years, unless otherwise advised by an optometrist.

The AOA recommends that parents contact their doctor of optometry if their child frequently:

Loses place while reading

Avoids close work

Tends to rub eyes

Has headaches

Turns or tilts head

Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing

Uses finger to maintain place when reading

Omits or confuses small words when reading

Consistently performs below potential

Struggles to complete homework

Squints while reading or watching television

Has behavioral problems

Holds reading material closer than normal

Studies indicate that 60% of children identified as "problem learners" actually suffer from undetected vision problems and, in some cases, have been diagnosed inaccurately with attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.