What you’re doing (or not doing) that will affect how your child learns

mom and daughter looking at glasses

As a parent who values your child’s education, you’ve probably gone to great lengths to make sure your child goes to the right school and has access to the best possible teachers.

You’ve also spent a lot of time hunting down all the necessary school supplies. And although glue sticks, No. 2 pencils and pocket folders are important, it’s possible you’re not addressing the one item that dictates 80 percent of learning: your child’s vision.1

What we learn is largely predicated by what we see. Vision is a primary way children find out about the world around them. Yet 5 to 10 percent of children have undetected vision problems.2

Just like check-ups and trips to the dentist, bringing your child in for an annual eye exam is an important way to help him or her stay well. It’s not enough to rely on school vision screenings to determine your child’s eye care needs. By the time they have their first screening, they may already have issues that could have been corrected years earlier.

Between 6 months of age and 1 year, your child should have his or her first eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The doctor will check for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, amblyopia (or “lazy eye”), proper eye movement and eye alignment, how the eye reacts to light and darkness, and other eye health problems.3

Your child’s next eye exam should take place between the ages of 3 and 5, and then every year ongoing. During these exams, the doctor will conduct a comprehensive eye exam as well as vision screening tests.4

Because children often don’t realize they have a vision problem, it’s important they have a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. And while vision screenings performed at your child’s school can be helpful, they should not be considered a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.

1. Gazzaniga, M.S.; Ivry, R. B.; Jangun, G. R.; Cognitive Neuroscience, the Biology of the Mind. New York: WW Norton & Co., 1998.
2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996.
3. American Optometric Association, “Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age,” 2010.
4. American Optometric Association, “Infant Vision: Preschool Vision: 2 to 5 Years of Age,” 2010.