As 80 percent of everything we learn is a result of a visual process, a child's vision is crucial to successful learning. Because children assume everyone sees the same way, it's the parent's responsibility to make sure the child can see to learn. Here's what you can do to protect your child's vision and ability to learn:

First, be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision problem.  Common behaviors that may indicate a problem include:

  • frequent rubbing of eyes, blinking or headaches

  • losing place or using finger to maintain place while reading

  • squinting, tilting head or covering one eye

  • poor reading skills

  • short attention span

  • drop in scholastic or athletic performance

  • avoiding close work

  • difficulty remembering, identifying or drawing basic geometric figures

Second, seek thorough optometric care. Don't assume a child has good vision just because a school vision screening is passed. A 20/20 score simply means that your child can see at 20 feet what should be seen at that distance. It does not relate to any of the other vision skills needed for learning. Though vision screenings have an important place in preventative care, they are no substitute for a thorough vision examination.

Doctors of optometry suggest that every child should have a vision examination by the age of six months (at no charge with the InfantSEE program) and examinations at ages 1, 3, and 5, unless noticeable symptoms such as crossed-eyes appear earlier. Many vision conditions, like lazy eye, require early intervention and treatment to avoid permanent loss of sight. If there are no problems at the first examination, the next evaluation should occur at age three. Because vision changes can occur without you or your child realizing it, have your child's eyes examined by your optometrist regularly. It's never too early to protect your child's vision and future.

To read this article and more, visit the American Optometric Association