Last month I discussed binocular vision problems and how many youngsters with reading problems have undiagnosed sight difficulties. As the school holidays come to an end our thoughts, as parents, are on how we can best equip our children for the forthcoming school year. The obligatory trip to the shops for the school uniform, new shoes and all the paraphernalia necessary for our children to cope in school is essential. But what if your youngster can’t actually see clearly? How will they cope in school when they can’t see the classroom white board or read comfortably?
With most information being available online, perhaps on a school portal or, more likely, via YouTube, children really need to be able to read comfortably if they are to achieve their full potential at school or college. They also need to see clearly in the distance to perform well in sports and in the classroom. One in five teenagers in the UK is now myopic (shortsighted). Yet surprisingly very few children have regular eye examinations. Because poor vision is an unseen problem most parents don’t think their child could have a vision problem. Even in schools, children who underperform are often labelled as potentially dyslexic rather than being advised to have an eye examination.
As part of the preparation for the new school year, all children should have a comprehensive eye examination. There are a couple of caveats I would advise. If your child is struggling to read but has been told they are seeing normally it probably indicates a subtle, but significant, problem with how their eyes work together. Also, no parent should ever accept advice that rapidly increasing myopia and ever stronger glasses is inevitable. It is now possible to dramatically reduce the rate of myopic increase in our children.