OCHD: Child’s vision-related learning issues a real problem

Seeing is believing when we take a look at the soaring number of students with eye issues and the impact it has on learning. More than 5 million children in the United States – 1 in 4 students – suffer from undiagnosed vision problems.

If your child is having difficulty in school, it’s very possible they can’t see the blackboard, computer screen or book they’re reading. Studies show that approximately 80% of what a child learns in school is information through visual presentation. If a child can’t see well, concentration and engaging in lessons will be difficult. Underperformance in school leads to poor grades, poor self-esteem and potential behavior issues.

“The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) wants to remind parents about the importance of children’s eye health as we start to gear up for another school year,” says Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “Early detection of vision problems can make all the difference for a child in the classroom.”

The good news is that early detection should come in the form of a new state law that mandates young students 6 and under, entering public schools or Head Start Programs, must receive a comprehensive eye exam. Students currently receive a cursoryeye screening, but now a comprehensive exam will provide a more definitive assessment and appropriate treatment so children can start their learning journey with adequate vision skills.

In many instances, parents and educators have confused a child’s vision problems with laziness, or even misclassified them with a learning disability. According to the American Optometric Association, a child’s vision can change frequently during the course of the school year. The following is a list of symptoms parents should look for:

• Headaches – particularly eye strain.
• Short attention span.
• Excessive blinking or eye rubbing.
• Poor hand-eye coordination.
• Difficulty remembering what was read.
• Covering one eye.
• Holding materials close to the face.

“The goal is to educate parents about the critical relationship between vision and learning,” explains Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “Students should not have to struggle getting through their studies due to a lack of undetected vision issues. As parents we look for so many health concerns but we can’t forget how important eye sight is to their academic success.”

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