In a 2018 study published by the University of Waterloo in Canada, researchers reported the link between your child's vision and their reading level. Researchers found that elementary school children who read below their grade level might have problems with their eyesight. What's even more intriguing is that the researchers even noticed these trends if standardized eye exams showed that a child had 20/20 vision.
What the Study Found
Researchers reported that standard eye exams don't always include binocular vision assessment. Binocular vision is your ability to see with both eyes with overlapping fields of view. This allows you to have peripheral vision and good depth perception. If your child has issues with binocular vision, they could have difficulty focusing on words or phrases or even find it difficult to turn their eyes. This leads to eye strain and possible double vision. This breakthrough research helps parents better understand why their children are falling behind when it comes to reading or overall academics.
When Children Need Eye Exams
To help ensure your child's eyes and vision are on target, request a thorough medical eye exam that includes a binocular assessment. The American Optometric Association recommends scheduling your child's first vision examination at six months of age. They should have another exam around age three, or as recommended. Even if your child has normal vision and eye development, it's important to schedule a complete medical eye exam before they start first grade. If they don't need corrective eyewear, continue scheduling preventive vision exams every two years. If your optometrist discovers that your child needs glasses or contacts, it's important to schedule eye examinations annually or as recommended.
How Optometrists Correct Vision in Children
Generally, eye doctors start out younger children with corrective glasses. Depending on your child's needs and their overall health, they might be eligible to start wearing contact lenses as early as eight years old. If your child has severe vision issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness), they could need bifocal glasses or bifocal contact lenses. Your optometrist can get your child fitted for contacts and check their overall eye health during a comprehensive contact lens exam.
If your child hasn't had a routine eye exam in a while, or if it seems like they're starting to fall behind in school, schedule a comprehensive medical eye exam right away. In many cases, once your child starts wearing corrective glasses or contacts, they should find it easier to read.