Back to School – Vision problems could equal behavioral issues

Your child may have trouble seeing if they aren’t performing to their potential in school, or have behavioral problems.

The back-to-school season is the time to make sure your child is fully prepared and ready to take on the challenges of school. Perhaps the most overlooked, yet immensely important part of that preparation is the all-important vision exam. There is a very strong relationship between vision and learning, as well as vision and behavior in the classroom.

Courtesy of mfury on Flickr

Courtesy of mfury on Flickr

Children who do not have the necessary visual-motor and visual-perceptual skills to compete in the classroom with their classmates, may act out, be easily distracted, or not be able to pay enough attention to perform to their potential. An extreme example of this is with juvenile delinquents. A more than 15-year study at the San Bernardino Juvenile Hall revealed that a much higher percentage of juvenile delinquents have vision problems than in the average population.  According to the study, by Stan Kaseno and Kristy Remick, poor visual skills can contribute to poor self-esteem, which can lead to poor attitudes and behavior in school. After a program that addressed the inmates problems, including vision and victims’ awareness classes, the recidivism or repeat offender rate decreased from 90% to 15%.

All students should have their vision and visual skills checked yearly by their doctor of optometry (optometrist) before going back to school to make sure they have the learning readiness skills that are so important to academic and athletic performance.

Here are signs to look out for that could indicate that your child has a possible vision problem:

Behavioral Signs

  • Poor attention in the classroom
  • Not performing to potential
  • Doesn’t like, or refuses to do homework
  • Doesn’t like sports
  • Slow reader
  • Difficulty completing timed exams on time

Signs of Difficulty with Visually-Related Tasks

  • Loses place frequently while reading
  • Headaches or eyestrain associated with reading or computer use
  • Words go in and out of focus
  • Words appear to “move” on the page
  • Double vision (constant or intermittent)
  • Having to re-read over and over for comprehension
  • Difficulty recalling what was read
  • Poor handwriting

If your child has any of the above problems, and is not performing to their potential in school and sports, have their eyesight and visual skills checked as soon as possible to detect, and treat any underlying vision problems that may be interfering with their performance.

~By Elise Brisco, OD, FCOVD, FAAO

Advertisements

Are computers bad for my child’s eyes?

This is a question that patients often ask me. Sometimes parents hint that they want me to tell their kids to stay off the computer/tablet/smartphone and others just really want to know how much is too much.  The fact of the matter is this: technology is not going to go away. It is everywhere. We do want our kids to be tech savvy and take advantage of all of the great learning experiences that technology offers, don’t we? We just need to be smart about it.

Courtesy of Paul Mayne on Flickr

Courtesy of Paul Mayne on Flickr

Using too much technology at a near point can have several negative effects on the body and on the visual system.  Kids who spend a lot of time in front of their devices, are less active physically and can have difficulty with posture.  We know that childhood obesity and diabetes is on the rise. One way to combat these diseases is to keep our children active, which means less time in front of the computer.

Computer vision syndrome is not a term that only applies to adults.  Symptoms such as eye fatigue, blurry vision, red eyes, headache and difficulty shifting focus to objects at a distance after computer use can also affect kids.  When focusing is fixed at a certain object in space for a long time, a child’s developing visual system does not get the benefit of practicing how to focus at different distances. This can cause persistent  problems with clarity of vision and possibly reading problems.

So how much is too much? A rule of thumb I usually give my patients is if school-aged children use the computer for schoolwork or for recreation, they should be on it for no more than 40 minutes without a break. By break, I mean at least 5 minutes away from the desk – getting up, looking outside, getting a drink of water and moving around.  For younger kids, try no more than 20 minutes per day. In fact, keep younger kids off electronic devices as much as possible. Encourage more free play, book reading and imagination. Try to use the technology only as needed or as a reward, not as a given or expected everyday activity.

There will be plenty of time to use technology as they get older. As I said, it is not going to go away!

Courtesy of sean dreilinger on Flickr

Courtesy of sean dreilinger on Flickr

In the meantime, do what you can to make computer use safe. Make sure children have annual comprehensive eye examinations to make sure their eyes are not being adversely affected by computer use.  Make sure the computer station is set up ergonomically for your child. The monitor should be slightly below eye level and a foot stool should be used to prevent dangling feet. Minimize glare on the computer by using glare filters and by positioning the computer away from windows as much as possible. These suggestions will help with healthy computer use for our children.

~Lisa Weiss, OD

It’s just the FACTS: Vision & Learning Go Hand in Hand

August has been recognized as the Vision & Learning month.  It would seem appropriate since many children return to school in August or shortly thereafter.  In addition to getting new clothes and supplies for our kids, this yearly routine should spur us to take our children in for a comprehensive eye and vision examination.

Vision is a highly complex and intricate process.  So, it is not surprising that reading and learning is dependent on not only having excellent 20/20 vision, but also accurate eye movement, eye focusing, eye teaming, and visual motor skills.

It’s just the plain ole fact that there is a direct correlation between vision and learning.

Courtesy of woodleywonderworks on Flickr

Courtesy of woodleywonderworks on Flickr

Did you know that…

  • “25% of students in grades K-6 have visual problems that are serious enough to impede learning.” – American Public Health Association
  • Approximately “80% of children with a learning disability have an  undiagnosed vision problem.”– Vision Council of America
  • “1 in 4 children has an undiagnosed vision problem which can interfere with learning and lead to academic and/or behavioral problems.”  – College of Optometrists in Vision Development
  • Studies show that “children who had visual perceptual and eye movement difficulties did poorly on standardized tests.” – Dr. Lynn Hellerstein, FAAO, FCOVD, Past President of COVD
  • “When vision problems go undetected, children almost invariably have  trouble reading and doing their schoolwork.  They often a display fatigue, fidgeting and frustrations in the classroom – traits that can lead to a misdiagnosis of dyslexia or other learning disabilities.” – American Optometric Association
  • A “child with a vision based learning problem has excellent verbal skills, causing parent and educators to think the child must be lazy, have ADD/ADHD, or is learning disabled.”
    – College of Optometrists in Vision Development

A cursory vision screening is just not enough to detect vision-related learning difficulties.  Early prevention of a child’s vision problem is so important for school readiness, learning and academic success.  So make it an integral part of your child’s back-to-school preparations.  Buy school supplies, outfit your child with new clothes, and most important, take your child to see a doctor of optometry for a thorough eye and vision examination.

~Judy Tong, OD, FAAO

(Special thanks to my colleagues Drs. Carmen Barnhardt, Eric Borsting, Ray Chu, and Rebekah Louie.)

A Cutting Edge Treatment for Dry Eye – Scleral Contact Lenses

What are Scleral Lenses?

Meet my patient, a 58-year-old female who came to my office with terrible redness, burning, tearing eyes and sensitivity to light. She has used many treatments previously without success. I made the diagnosis of severe dry eye. The patient was fit with scleral lenses and was able to see better than 20/20 in each eye. In addition, she is able to wear the lenses all day long comfortably. Scleral lenses are large diameter gas permeable lenses that rest beyond the limits of the cornea on the sclera. They were first used in late 1800s and early 1900s however now the manufacturing process is more reproducible.

Courtesy of maikel_nai on Flickr

Courtesy of maikel_nai on Flickr

When do you need scleral lenses?

– primary and secondary corneal ectasias

– post-corneal transplants

– corneal scars

– corneal dystrophies or degenerations

– severe dry eyes

– graft versus host disease

– Sjogren’s syndrome

– Stevens-Johnson syndrome

– neurotrophic keratopathy

– chronic inflammatory conditions such as limbal stem cell deficiency or ocular cicatricial pemphigoid.

Clearance (the space between the cornea and scleral lens) is a key advantage to scleral lenses. The cornea is bathed all day long with saline, which rejuvenates the ocular surface. This is unlike other types of contact lenses (including soft and small diameter gas permeable lenses) that may compromise the ocular surface.Sleral lenses

Scleral lenses are a life-changing opportunity for many. In my practice, scleral lenses have helped people who previously have not been able to see or function with other types of contact lenses or glasses.

There have been numerous advancements in scleral lenses in the past year. Multifocal scleral lenses are now available allowing both distance and near vision are now available.

~Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO