Good vision is important for a child’s physical, social and educational development. 1 in 4 children suffer from undetected vision problems, so it is important to look for signs that your child may be suffering from one of the following: focusing problems, convergence problems and tracking. We can test for colour blindness from age 10 on wards however we can detect any colour blindness issues earlier.
Sometimes a child can fail to establish adequate focusing stamina during their early years of development, but in the vast majority of cases focusing problems (accommodative dysfunction) arise from fatigue as a result of sustained near visual tasks such as reading, writing, computer, iPad, phones etc. Prolonged near tasks can be fatiguing to certain individuals. The visual effort required to try to cope with this task, can sometimes cause a breakdown in the visual system leading to focusing problem and convergence problems. This can even happen in the adult eye, especially if we are tired, or have commenced a new task with a lot of near work.
Focusing problems or accommodative dysfunction, simply means that a child has difficulty focusing particularly at near. This is not so much an eyesight (or clarity) difficulty as a problem in maintaining accurate, comfortable focus particularly with near work.
The symptoms associated with focusing dysfunction usually occur during or soon after the task in question. The symptoms may include, but are not limited to the following:
Prescribing of spectacle lenses for close work may be all that is required. However, for some focusing problems, visual therapy is also required which we do in store and prepare you for activities for home based therapy. Treatment duration will depend on the particular patient’s condition. Angela our Visual Therapist is available to discuss more in person and offer continuous support along with your Optometrists.
Visual hygiene must also be considered. Regular breaks from near tasks as well as a good working distance (generally elbow-to-fist) from reading or writing material is important. Good lighting is essential at night.
Children with a convergence problem are unable to turn both eyes inwards together, and sustain this posture. Most times it is a fatigue problem caused by close work in susceptible individuals. One of the reasons for this may be that the child had never refined this ability. With the commencement of school work and learning to read, this problem becomes more apparent. Another reason may be that the visual system may be fatiguing and allowing one eye to drift out. In other words, there is a breakdown in the ability to sustain near alignment of the eyes due to visual fatigue.
Convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the individual has difficulty keeping both eyes turned in to point in the same position when they are doing close work (eg reading, writing, and computer work).
Children with poor convergence will sometimes have poorer fine eye-hand and visual motor skills and will tend to avoid near tasks as they have difficulty attending to these.
Treatment of convergence insufficiency or excess will sometimes require the prescription of spectacles. In some cases, because these lenses reduce the visual demands on the visual system this is all that is needed to be done. In other cases however, visual therapy will be needed to rebuild and develop the visual stamina and convergence skills. Vision therapy is home based program.
Tracking is the ability to control the eye movements accurately to keep the eyes on the target, whether the object is moving or stationary. It is a skill that is required to follow a line of print on a page or a ball in flight. Tracking is especially important in reading.
Symptoms A child may not tell you that he or she has tracking problems because they may think the way they see is the way everyone sees.
Signs that may indicate a child has vision problem include:
Most times, your child will be required to wear spectacles for at least 12 to 36 months. Ultimately, it is expected that most children outgrow the need for their glasses. Some children with these problems never improve sufficiently to stop wearing their spectacles for reading completely.
Children who have reading spectacles, do not become dependent on them and do not worsen through the usage of spectacles. Children should have regular yearly reviews throughout their schooling life as the demands of the classroom change with different school year levels.
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