Young Eyes and Learning
We live in a visual world and there is a very clear connection between good eyesight and learning success at school. Experts say that about 80 percent of what children learn at school is presented visually: good vision is essential for students of any age if they are to reach their potential.
Research has shown that in New Zealand around 15% of children have problems with their vision; many of the children are pre-schoolers. If left untreated, eyesight problems can impact on learning, confidence and sports. If your child is not doing so well at school, ruling out vision problems is an easy first step to take on your journey to helping your child achieve academically and participate comfortably in classroom and after-school activities.
Visual Screening At School
While vision screening occurs at pre-, primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand, only around 25% of those children with visual problems get spotted. This means that almost three-quarters of kids who have problems with their sight continue to struggle with eyesight and learning at school. Screenings typically test how well a child can see over a distance, but not much more. Comprehensive eye exams assess ocular health, as well as vision, to determine if any lens correction is needed.
Looking Good Is More Than Just Eyesight
Vision is not just about how each eye focuses and sees, but how the eyes work together, focus together, and how the images are then processed. As children have no way of knowing if what they see is any different from what others can see, visual issues in children can be difficult to spot. Our opticians and optometrists have the skills and expertise to identify if a vision problem is interfering with your child’s ability to access information and take part in social and sports activities.
- Nearsightedness (myopia) – the inability to see things clearly unless they are close to the eyes
- Farsightedness (hyperopia) – the inability to see things clearly especially if they are close to the eyes
- Astigmatism (distorted vision) – blurs or distorts both near and far objects.
These issues can be fully corrected with glasses or contact lenses ,which our optometrists can help with. But there are other, less obvious learning-related vision problems aside from nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism that can affect kids’ eyesight.
- Eye focusing – the ability to quickly and accurately focus as objects’ distances change
- Eye tracking – ability to keep eyes on target as they move from one object to another
- Eye teaming problems – the ability to use both eyes together in movement and in judging distance.
Spotting Vision Issues
Parents and care-givers play a very important role in picking up problems in their children’s sight and there are several tell-tale signs to look out for: is your child sitting too close to the TV, do they rub their eyes repeatedly, blink over-frequently, are they clumsy, show poor eye-hand coordination, do they squint, complain of headaches, tilt or turn their head to use only one eye, frequently lose their place while reading and/or use a finger to track or do they have a notably short attention span during visual tasks?
If you do see your child displaying any of these signs, we recommend you schedule an eye exam. Contact your Auckland child eye care team today on 09 522 1283 to speak to our Newmarket optometrists. To speak to an optometrist in Henderson call 09 836 1731. Having your child’s eyes checked is fast, easy and can relieve a lot of worry and guess work as they journey along the complicated path that is school. Our friendly staff have been trained to help put children at ease and make regular eye checks a pleasant experience for all concerned.
Paying For Eye Tests and Glasses for Children
The Enable children’s spectacle subsidy from The New Zealand Ministry of Health can help pay for eye tests and corrective glasses for kids aged 15 years and under. The subsidy also covers repairs to glasses.
Who can get the eyesight subsidy?
You can get the Enable Spectacle Subsidy for child or young person who is 15 years of age or under, provided:
- the parent/guardian or child has a valid community services card, or
- the child has a current high use health card.
A higher-level subsidy is also available for children and young people with more complex vision needs. Talk to our staff at John O’Connor optometrist to check if your child is eligible.