Did you know that while eyeglasses can improve vision, they can also improve learning? With our children returning back to school, it’s important to understand the importance of eye exams and why they should be prioritized on the “back-to-school checklist” to help support students in their learning.
How do eyeglasses improve school performance?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), a study of more than 2,000 elementary and middle school students in Baltimore City schools found that children who received free eye exams and glasses as part of a school-based vision program improved their academic performance after one year. Experts interpreting this data suggest that the results indicate that programs similar to the one in the study could help more students succeed in school despite having vision impairment or limited access to eye care.
Following the study, students who failed the screening received free eye exams and eyeglasses. Researchers checked these students’ performance on standardized reading and math tests in both one and two years after the study. They learned that students who received glasses improved their scores on reading tests after one year. The improvements were comparable to the effects of 1:1 tutoring. Elementary students also improved their math scores.
What vision skills are needed for effective learning?
Experts from the American Optometric Association (AOA) share that the following vision skills are necessary for effective reading and learning:
- Visual acuity – the ability to see clearly in the distance (viewing a chalkboard), at a middle-range (seeing a computer screen) and up close (reading a book.)
- Eye focusing – the ability to see quickly while accurately maintaining clear vision as the distance from objects changes – for example, looking from a chalkboard to a notebook on the desk and back.
- Eye tracking – the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, such as moving the eyes along the text of a story.
- Eye teaming – the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving the eyes along a page or judging distances for classwork and sports.
- Eye-hand coordination – the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands when drawing a picture or hitting a ball.
- Visual perception – the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words, and ideas to then understand and retain what is read.
Why are eye exams important for children?
First and foremost, healthy vision allows children to focus clearly on objects at all distances and properly cultivate the vision skills outlined above. Refractive error – trouble focusing on an object – can prevent children’s eyes from developing properly. This can cause serious problems now during their schooling ages as well as later in life. The most common refractive errors include nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.
During an eye exam, the ophthalmologist can assess your child’s vision and any areas that may require additional intervention. If your child does have a refractive error, the typical course of treatment is prescribing the necessary eyeglasses. For any other challenges or difficulties, the ophthalmologist will put together the appropriate plan of action to ensure your child is set up for optimal success in their vision and academics.
Schedule your child’s appointment today and help them stay on the path to healthy vision and happy learning.