As a mother you can often find it frustrating when your children don’t see the pile of toys in the middle of the floor, the dirty socks in their room or the jeans and t-shirt from last week under the bed. And how is it that your daughter can walk right past or over Barbie shoes without seeing them, but the vacuum can’t seem to get away from them?
Children (and some adults, too) have an uncanny ability to see only what they want to see. They can see the bag of candy you have stashed way in the back of the pantry but couldn’t tell you anything that’s sitting between them and that bag of candy. They can also see the toys in the tub, but somehow the soap is invisible.
These things are just naturally a part of being a kid. Their focus is on what they consider to be the task at hand. Your daughters have not yet developed their womanly ability to multi-task. Your son…well, they’re never going to have the multi-task gene, but don’t worry. They’ll learn to focus on the more relevant task at hand in good time.
What if it’s more than that
But what if it’s more than simple childish oversight? What if your child actually displays symptoms of not being able to see well?
If you suspect your child is experiencing vision problems, the first thing you need to do is have their vision checked. This is a simple procedure that can be done at your child’s school or by your pediatrician. A simple vision test consists of placing your child a specified distance from an eye chart that is comprised of either letters of the alphabet or “Es” pointing up, down, left and right in rows of varying sizes.
Your child is asked to read the letters or point out which direction the “E” is facing. Depending on the size of letters or “Es” your child can read, the healthcare professional will determine the amount of vision in their eyes. The examination will include having your child read the chart with both eyes and with each eye covered. This determines if vision problems exist in one or both eyes.
Following the eye examination and evaluation of the exam, recommendations will be made as to whether or not your child needs corrective lenses (glasses) to improve their eyesight.
Signs your child may have vision problems
There are several things you can watch for to determine whether or not you feel a visit to the eye doctor is merited.
· Turning their head to one side when looking at something can indicate double vision caused by an imbalance of the eye muscles
· Sitting too close to the television is an indication of being nearsighted. If your child insists on sitting up close and personal, ask them why.
· Eye watering and tearing up or constant rubbing of the eyes indicates problems with tear ducts and dry-eye syndrome. These problems can cause more serious vision problems if left unchecked.
· Covering an eye when reading or watching television is a sign of any number of problems in the eye your child covers. They do this to prevent the problem from interfering with what they are seeing with their ‘good’ eye.
· Pointing at everything they read or see. Don’t mistake early reading skills for vision problems. Most children point while they read when they are first discovering the world of reading. But if the habit persists once they have developed adequate reading skills, this may possibly indicate blurred vision. Pointing is their way to remain on track.
· Losing their place while reading is also an indicator of vision problems as is not wanting to read. Children who are experiencing vision problems often shy away from reading because they can’t see the words clearly. Not being able to see the words clearly puts them at risk for making mistakes…and being laughed at or reprimanded.
What’s a parent to do
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, don’t delay getting their vision checked. Most of these problems are easily corrected. Leaving them untreated leads to all sorts of problems. Children who live with untreated vision problems do poorly in school, dislike school and often drop out when old enough. The child who can’t see well often withdraws from social settings and refuses to interact in games, sports or musical activities because they can’t keep up. In other words, it’s a miserable life for a child who can’t see well. This doesn’t have to be!
Children and eyeglasses
Today’s eyeglasses are a far cry from those of just a couple of decades ago. Even toddlers and preschoolers can safely wear eyeglasses. Children’s eyewear is made from durable materials including shatter-proof lenses and frames that are bendable, pliable and virtually unbreakable.
Don’t worry. Most children who have had trouble seeing are so excited over being able to see things more clearly that they don’t mind wearing glasses. And that old stigma of being a 4-eyes…in today’s society, no one thinks too much about it.