Preschool Vision
Getting a Visual "Head Start"

The preschool years, ages 2 to 5, are a time when
children gain and refine the visual abilities they will
need in school and throughout their life. Steps
taken during these years to ensure vision is
developing normally can provide a child with a
good "head start" for school.
At this age, children are developing the visually-guided
eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills, and visual perceptual
abilities used to learn to read and write. Every experience a
preschooler has is an opportunity for growth and development.

Stacking blocks, rolling a ball back and forth, coloring, drawing,
cutting, or assembling lock-together toys all help improve vision skills.
Also, reading to young children helps them develop strong
visualization skills as they "picture" the story in their minds.

However, this is also the time when parents need to be alert for the
presence of vision problems like crossed eyes or lazy eye. These
conditions often develop at this age. The earlier they are detected and
treated the more successful the outcome.
Other signs of possible vision problems
to look for include:
l Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close

l Squinting

l Tilting the head to see

l Frequent eye rubbing

l Short attention span for the child's age

l Sensitivity to bright light

l Difficulty coordinating eyes-hands-body
when playing ball or bike riding
l Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles, or other
detailed activities
l Clumsy and often bumping into things
Parents should also watch their child for indication of any delays in
development. Difficulty with recognition of colors, shapes, letters
and numbers can be signs of a vision problem.

If you notice any of these signs in your preschooler, arrange for a
visit to your eye doctor.
The American Optometric Association
recommends children have a thorough eye
examination at age 3 to make sure their
vision is developing properly. With today's
diagnostic equipment and tests, children
this age do not have to know the alphabet
or how to read to have their eyes
examined.

A vision screening by your child's
pediatrician or at pre-school is not the
same as a comprehensive eye and vision
examination.
Passing a vision screening can give parents a false sense of security. Many
preschool vision screenings only assess one or two areas of vision. They may
not evaluate how well the child can focus his or her eyes or how well the eyes
work together as a team.

If possible, seek the services of an eye doctor who works extensively with
children. They are generally more experienced in evaluating young children
and will often provide a more in-depth visual assessment.

Unless your eye doctor advises otherwise, your child's next eye examination
should be at age 5.
TM
Vision Topics
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