Seeing Clearly: Why an eye exam could be key to your child’s success in school

eye test

TOPEKA (KSNT) – As you’re running around trying to check items off your back to school list, there’s one thing you might want to consider adding: an eye exam.

With mandatory doctor visits for vaccinations and school athletics, a visit to the eye doctor may seem like overkill for your kids, but experts say it could actually be the key to their academic success.

A child’s eyes are one of their most important tools for learning, but,

“Actually one in four children have an undiagnosed vision problem,” said Dr. Jessica Mai, an Optometrist for Genstler Eye Care in Topeka.

State law requires public schools to conduct eye screenings, but they’re neither regular nor comprehensive for every student.

“This is just our eye chart. We do distance screening and color screen upon request,” said Debbie Robison, a Registered Nurse with the Topeka Public School District.

“While those screenings are really good at detecting certain types of problems, there’s often times things that are missed during those screenings, such as a lazy eye where one eye doesn’t see as well as the other eye, or turned eyes or even eye coordination problems,” explains Dr. Mai.

Those vision problems can hinder how well your child reads or comprehends in the classroom, “In fact there’s some studies that show that visual functions or visual related problems, if gone undetected are actually a better predictor of academic failure than things like socioeconomic status,” said Dr. Mai.

An annual eye exam can ensure your child won’t fall behind.

“A really good example is my own nephew, he’s getting ready to start Kindergarten in the Fall and I didn’t know he was having any vision problems at all and his parents didn’t either, but we just brought him in for his annual exam and we realized that he had a really significant astigmatism in both eyes and decreased vision,” said Dr. Mai.

An issue she says is easily corrected with glasses, but undetected, could have led to frustration for the child and teachers at school, and mom and dad at home.

Dr. Mai explains many vision problems don’t have any indicators, but if you see your child squinting, rubbing or covering their eyes frequently or tilting their head one way or another they may need to have their eyes checked.

For more information on how your child’s eyes are developing and things you can be watching for, click here.

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