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Distracted children and their eye health
Posted 3 September 2019
Most of what a child learns comes from what they see, so if their vision isn’t at its best, their schoolwork will suffer. Children can have an eye test and see very well down the eye chart, but still have eye health issues. This is where behavioural optometrists can help.
Health Partners Optometrist, Anh Pahn has a chat with us about how a child’s behaviour can influence their learning and development.
How does eye health affect behaviour?
1 in 5 children have undetected vision problems. Teachers or parents may assume a child may be suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), have a learning disability or perhaps think they’re just acting out. In most cases, children who have eye health issues don’t enjoy going to school and learning.
Anh says, “We always think vision is about seeing things clearly but with this group, the majority of their problems are about seeing things comfortably.
To see things comfortably you need two muscles to work together well, you need the ones inside the eye to focus and the ones outside the eye to turn the eyes correctly.”
Signs a child could have an eye health problem and should be tested
- Behind at school
- Distracted and misbehaving in class
- Suffer headaches
- Sore eyes
- Losing place or skipping lines when reading
- Blurred vision after doing close work
- Letter or word reversals
- Mistaking words with similar beginnings or endings
- Reduced comprehension
- Poor memory
- Can’t remember instructions
Types of eye health issues for children
There are different types of vision problems that these children could be suffering from. The good news is though, these disorders can be managed and treated.
- Eye teaming disorder – Children need to be able to work their eyes evenly to converge and diverge. If this process is disrupted they may see a double of words on the page. Children who are struggling with this will often tilt their head when holding a book or iPad at very close working distances.
- Tracking problem – When your child is reading, they need to be able to easily change from one line to another without losing their spot and needing a finger to guide them. A tracking problem can slow down their progress and learning significantly. A tracking issue can also affect your child’s ability to copy from the whiteboard properly. If they continue to lose their place, it will slow their learning down.
- Focus problem– If children have issues copying work from a board, they may have a focus problem. If their focus system doesn’t work as it should they may experience blurry vision when looking up and back.
- Vision processing issue– The information that children take in through their eyes may not be visually processed properly or may not be integrated with other senses.
- Muscle stamina issues or fatigue– Children who have low visual muscle stamina will not be able to concentrate for long periods or will become distracted.
If you suspect your child may have eye health issues that are impacting their behaviour at school, early detection is key. The older the child becomes, the more the condition will hinder them.