Vision screening is essential to early detection of problems that impact learning and quality of life
Las Vegas, NV – As children return to school, ophthalmologists are reminding parents that good vision and eye health are key to students’ ability to do well in the classroom and be safe on the playground. September is Children’s Eye Health and Safety month, and Shepherd Eye Center encourages Las Vegas families to make sure students receive children’s vision screening.
The first hint that Quinn Kirby had a serious but correctable vision problem was during a preliminary screening at her pediatrician’s office. Quinn, a bright, lively four-year-old, was asked to identify pictures and letters, but she couldn’t name them. This frustrated her, since she knew her alphabet. The pediatrician recommended sending Quinn to a pediatric ophthalmologist, an eye medical doctor who cares for children, for a comprehensive eye exam.
The comprehensive eye exam showed that Quinn’s vision was 20/30 in her right eye and 8/200 in the left, compared with 20/20 normal vision. Her stronger eye was doing most of the work, and her other eye was becoming weaker as a result, a condition called amblyopia. Quinn’s weaker eye was also turned slightly inward – a variation of a condition called strabismus – but this was too subtle to be noticed except in an exam.
Quinn’s ophthalmologist applauded her pediatrician for detecting vision problems, and said that such vision problems are nearly impossible for parents to detect in young children. Vision screening by a school nurse, pediatrician or other qualified health provider is the best way to ensure healthy vision in children.
“Quinn’s story illustrates how vision screening and proper treatment can make a big difference to a child’s future,” said Shepherd’s Pediatric Ophthalmologist Dr. Adam Rovit “When a potential problem is found, a comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist is the best way to determine whether vision correction or other treatment is needed.”
It is also important for parents to know how vision does — and does not — play a role for children with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities result from the brain’s misinterpretation of images received and relayed by the eyes, rather than from structural or functional eye problems. Learning disabilities are not treatable by eye exercises or vision therapy. If learning disabilities are suspected, students may need testing, neurological exams, and treatment.
Whether or not learning disabilities are suspected, all students need vision screening to check eye health and visual acuity. Quinn’s mother, Kris, teaches third grade and said some of her students’ learning struggles might have been avoided if they had had vision screening and treatment when they entered kindergarten, or as soon as vision or learning problems were suspected.
“I’d encourage all parents to make sure your children get screened at school, at your pediatrician’s office, or through another health service,” Kris said. “My husband and I are grateful that Quinn’s problem was discovered and treated early. She’s now almost five-and-a-half, with 20/25 vision in her right eye and 20/30 in the left. She loves being able to do whatever her big brother does and enjoys reading with us.”
Quinn’s treatment included eye glasses and eye patch treatment. She wore a patch over her stronger eye for about eight hours each day so that her weaker eye could take on the work of seeing and develop more normally. “She insisted all of us wear patches along with her,” Kris added. “In their daisy eye patches, Quinn and my husband were famous at our local market!”
For more information on children’s vision and eye health and safety, visit www.geteyesmart.org.
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