If your child is struggling in school, it might not be because he or she doesn't understand the material or has difficulty paying attention. It may be that their vision is causing them problems with reading material on the board, on handouts, in textbooks, and anywhere else in class where they need to focus.
It's estimated that about 2 million kids in the US have an undiagnosed vision problem. According to the LA times, last year 250,000 public school students in California needed glasses but did not have them. Furthermore, “About 95% of the public school students who need glasses enter school without them.” Vision problems in children are especially common now, as kids spend much of their time staring at tv, computer, and phone screens, which over time forces the eyes to strain to focus and can lead to vision problems. Though your child may not realize something is wrong, you can look out for the following signs that he or she is having difficulty seeing.
Signs of Vision Problems
- Head tilting
- Rubbing eyes
- Covering one eye
- Losing their place while reading
- Sitting at the front of the class or close to the tv/computer at home
- Complaints of headaches, watery or dry eyes.
Preventing Vision Problems
The best way to prevent your child from developing vision problems is to limit their time watching tv, playing video games, playing on their phone, or using the computer. Yearly checkups at the eye doctor are also a good way to be proactive about your child's vision.
If you believe your child is having vision problems, the best time to do something about it is now. Research has shown that children with vision problems perform significantly better in school after having been given glasses. A recent study in China looked at the effects of providing underprivileged students in rural areas with free glasses. It found that students who were given glasses and used them showed an “increase in test scores associated with 0.9 years of extra schooling. In other words, offering poor students free eyeglasses and making sure that they accept the offer had close to the same positive impact on the students' test scores as putting them through a whole additional year of school.” Not only that, but the study found that “the experiment increased an average middle-school graduate's annual income by at least 128 yuan per year, which exceeded the cost of a pair of glasses.”