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
Other signs of possible vision problems
to look for include:
Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
Tilting the head to see
Frequent eye rubbing
Short attention span for the child's age
Sensitivity to bright light
Difficulty coordinating eyes-hands-body
when playing ball or bike riding
Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles, or other
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.
Baby's Eye Exam
Children's Eye Exam
Learning to Read
Signs of Eye or Vision
Toys that Help
Vision and Intelligence
Vision and Learning
Vision and Reading