What is Preschool Vision?
Some preschools may offer a vision screening for your child, but be aware that it may only provide cursory information regarding far vision, or distance visual acuity. Many individuals with 20/20 visual acuity have significant vision problems. Obvious problems like an eye turn or large acuity differences between eyes are usually detected by pediatricians, but other vision problems may not be detected without a comprehensive vision examination to evaluate fine motor development (tracking and teaming), near vision (reading distance), depth perception, amblyopia (lazy eye) and other ocular issues.
School vision screenings, even when administered by a nurse, are not effective in identifying many vision problems that affect learning. As an example of what can happen as a consequence, children with the undetected eye teaming problem of Convergence Insufficiency are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.
Particularly with children who are struggling with development or in school, it is crucial to have their vision fully tested beyond what the pediatrician and preschools offer.
At Hope Clinic, our doctor will evaluate other visual skills that affect learning to ensure appropriate visual system functioning, such as the following:
- Eye Teaming Ability
- Eye Tracking
- Near Point Focus (Convergence)
- Depth Perception
- Near to Far Focus (Accommodation)
- Visual Motor Integration
- Visual Memory
Some children are more prone to risk factors in their vision development due to inherited traits, the environment, or nutritional factors.
Following are some indicators that a child may be at risk for vision problems:
- Prenatal Care & Lifestyle Issues (drinking, smoking, drugs during pregnancy)
- Pregnancy Complications (systemic infections, preeclampsia, anesthetics at birth, medications, toxemia, obstetrical trauma, hypoxia, etc.)
- Family History of visual problems and/or learning disabilities
- Low Birth Weight or Premature Birth
- Failure to Thrive
- Postnatal factors (infections, metabolic disorders, chronic disease, environmental hazards, and hazardous medical events ie. head injury, abuse, seizures, etc.)
- Lack of rich sensory-motor experiences due to our cultural increase of time spent in movement-restricted activities such as: car seats, playpens, activity saucers/walkers/bouncers, strollers, tight clothing and TV/computer viewing
Even though our public school system relies on age to determine school readiness and grade level, school readiness is truly a question of neurological development. Many children are developing appropriately, but not at the age set by the schools. “Wait and see” is the model these children may fit into, and they may be held back in kindergarten or enter school later to give them a bit more time to develop the skills they need to be successful in school.
Pre-school is a period of refinement of the neurological foundation skills acquired in the infant and toddler years, including the following necessary for school achievement:
- Gross and Fine Motor Movement
- Body and Spatial Awareness
- Auditory and Visual Processing and Perception
- Rhythm and Timing
Most of children’s learning during the preschool years depends on observations of the world around them. A child assumes that what they see is what everyone else sees, since they can’t look through other people’s eyes to compare, and are not often aware that they have a vision problem. It is especially important for adults to recognize the red flags or signs of vision problems.
Signs of Vision Problems in Toddlers, Ages 1-3
- Holds books/toys too close or too far
- Often closes or covers one eye
- Red eyes, crusty lids, milky colored or cloudy pupils (emergency)
- Squinting when no bright lights or glare
- Avoidance of books, puzzles and the like
- Eye rubbing when not tired
- Sitting too close to TV/computer
- Tilting/turning head to one side
- Eyes constantly moving back and forth
- Tearing without crying
Signs of Vision Problems in Pre-school, Ages 3-5
- Poor balance, clumsy and/or uncoordinated
- Toe walking
- Can’t balance on one leg for a few seconds or jump easily
- Rhythm and timing difficulty
- Can’t ride a tricycle
- Eye rubbing and excessive blinking
- Head turning to extreme angles to view targets
- Object transfer between hands instead of crossing body
- No preferred hand by age 4
- Eyes constantly moving back and forth
- Holds crayon in fist-like grip
- Can’t draw a circle
Contact Hope Clinic to begin the process of learning how Vision Therapy can help you or your child! Hope Clinic offers two online options: Schedule a Free Screening or Schedule a Full Functional Vision Evaluation, or call us at (425) 462-7800.