Skip to main content

Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Eyes on Learning

Jul 30, 2019 11:39AM ● By Donna Production
By Cheryl Maguire

"You need glasses,” the ophthalmologist said to me. I was 12 years old. My mom was shocked since I never had complained of unclear vision, and no one else in our family had poor eyesight. A failed school eye exam was the reason for the visit to the eye doctor. My vision became gradually worse so I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal.

When I first wore glasses, I remember thinking to myself, “Everything seems so clear and crisp. I can see the tips of leaves on a tree and easily read street signs.” Before I had glasses, I thought it was normal for the world to appear a little bit blurry.

Similar to my experience, children may be unaware of the fact their vision is not normal. This may lead to feeling frustrated about being unable to see the words in a book or on the board in the classroom. It may even cause kids to act out. The American Optometric Association (AOA) says, “[S]ome children may be mislabeled as having ADHD when, in fact, they have an undetected vision problem.”, a division of the AOA, lists the following signs your child could have a vision problem:

1. Head Tilt Children who have problems with their ocular muscles or nerves may try to compensate by tilting their heads.

2. Sitting Too Close to the Television Moving closer to the television or reading materials may be an attempt to compensate for nearsightedness.

3. Avoidance of Reading Reading uses many complex eye movements, and this can easily frustrate children with poor visual skills.

4. Frequent Headaches Children may get headaches because they are straining to align, focus, and use their eyes.

5. Doesn’t Know Which Way to Go Children with poor directional skills or who confuse left and right may be suffering from poor vision.

6. Finger Pointing Children may point their fingers in an attempt to compensate for inadequate tracking ability.

7. Can’t Copy from the Board Kids who can’t change focus between objects that are far away and those that are close by may have difficulty recording information that a teacher has written on a board.

8. Squinting compensates for blurry vision.

9. Poor Hand/Eye Coordination Clear vision and adequate visual skills are required to create a functional link between vision and other body movements.

10. Eye Rubbing This is a basic response to ocular discomfort. It typically occurs when one’s eyes are strained or have been working much too hard to complete a task.

If your child is experiencing one of these symptoms, schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor. There are two different types of eye doctors, ophthalmologists and optometrists. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye care. Optometrists graduate from a four-year professional program and receive a doctor of optometry degree. The main focus of their practices is to prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Due to my poor vision and the fact that I have had other vision issues, I go to an ophthalmologist every two years for a checkup and to receive updated prescriptions for my glasses and contacts.

Even though my mother didn’t think I would need glasses when I was 12 years old, she took me to see the eye doctor. I’m grateful she did. 
Originally published on Signature Moms.

Cheryl Maguire’s writing has been published in the New York Times, Parents Magazine, Upworthy, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, and Your Teen Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @CherylMaguire05.