Eye doctor says school vision screenings lack

As Nebraska kids head back to school, an eye doctor suggests parents have their child’s vision checked by a professional and not just rely on the school screening. Dr. Ted Voorhies, a Lincoln optometrist, says children with uncorrected eye problems face many barriers in life, socially, athletically and academically.

Dr. Voorhies says, “Eighty percent of learning is through visual contact and if you can’t see things well, you’re not going to learn it well.” He says a child should first have a vision screening at six months of age. While many Nebraska schools will offer a vision test in early grades, Voorhies says they’re only checking the basics.

“School screenings are only evaluating distance vision problems which is about five-percent of the problems kids have with vision,” Voorhies says. “Complete examinations will catch the other ones and it’s been shown about one in five kids has a visual impairment that does reduce their ability to learn.”

He says some vision problems are hereditary. For instance, if a child’s parents are both near-sighted, it’s likely the child will be, too. “Our visual systems have adapted to our near-learning or near-abilities of today,” Voorhies says. “Our ancestors were far-sighted because their livelihoods depended on them being able to catch and gather whereas we have turned into a desktop society so our vision has changed to adapt to that.”

He says early detection and treatment provide the best opportunity to correct vision problems, so your child can learn to see clearly. For more information, visit the website of the American Optometric Association.


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