AUSTIN, Texas — Sometimes parents can tell if their child has a vision problem. They usually squint, experience constant headaches, or complain about things being blurry.
However, other times, the signs aren't so clear. While many parents rely on their child's school vision screening, optometrist Dr. Denise Smith said they're not thorough enough.
"One-third of children pass a screening when they really have a problem," said Dr. Smith. "The school vision screenings are just not enough. It gives a false sense of security."
Many times students' hidden vision problems go undiagnosed.
"They could have poor visual focusing," she added. "Which causes their vision to fluctuate and become blurry at times. They could have poor visual tracking, which causes them to skip words, lose their place, and re-read. All of these things can affect reading comprehension."
Sometimes children feel tired, have trouble concentrating, or get lost when reading. If the vision problem isn't identified, many students often get misdiagnosed.
"We know that children who have these hidden visual disorders are often mislabeled as having dyslexia or learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders, when, in fact, it's actually a vision problem," said Dr. Smith.
Dr. Smith said one in four children have a vision problem that goes on undiagnosed. That's about 25% percent of children.
"They're trying so hard, but they're not getting the return on their investment," she added. "So then they start to give up. They think they're stupid when really they're super smart. And it's just they don't have the skill set that they need to succeed."
If your child is losing their place while reading, has a short attention span, and turns his or her head side to side, these could be signs they're struggling with a vision problem.
If you think your child could have a hidden vision problem, Dr. Smith suggests taking this quiz. From there she can help direct you to the best course of treatment, the most common one being vision therapy.
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