Sixty per cent of children who are ‘problem learners’ have been found to suffer from undetected vision problems, warn optometrists who are encouraging all parents to have their children’s eyes tested.
Undetected vision problems are estimated to affect approximately one in four Australian children – or 600,000 nationally – which may contribute to potential learning difficulties in reading, writing, viewing a whiteboard, computer use and other classroom activities.
Optometrists Association Australia is working to raise awareness about the importance of looking after the health of children’s eyes throughout their schooling.
A recent review undertaken as part of the National Children’s Vision Screening Project reported most children with academic or behavioural problems fail one or more visual tests.
“We know that vision plays a significant part in the learning process for a child and there’s a definite link between vision impairment and educational outcomes,” said OAA Professional Services Manager, Shirley Loh.
“We all rely on good vision to see clearly and sharply. Vision problems can make learning difficult and stressful and prevent children from achieving their full potential.
“Parents and teachers should watch for signs that a child may have a vision problem, including avoidance of reading and writing, lower comprehension and short attention span. These are sometimes incorrectly suspected as the outcomes of learning disabilities such as dyslexia or attention deficits.
“Most importantly, the common vision problems among school-aged children can with early detection be easily managed or corrected by an optometrist,” Loh said.
All children should have their eyes examined by an optometrist prior to starting school and regularly thereafter to detect and manage vision problems promptly and prevent eye conditions that can lead to permanent vision impairment.
Eye examinations with an optometrist attract a Medicare rebate and no referral is required.