50 percent of all blindness is preventable. One in every four school-age children and one in 20 preschool-age children has an undiagnosed vision disorder. Left untreated, vision problems can trigger learning or behavioral problems in children.
A study conducted in 1999 by Dr. Joel Zaba and Roger A. Johnson proves a strong correlation between vision problems and illiteracy: of the illiterate population studied, 74 percent had undetected visual disorders. In some instances, letting these disorders go unchecked can cause permanent vision loss and unnecessary blindness.
Prevent Blindness Indiana is a non-profit organization committed to reducing needless cases of blindness for more than half a century. As a trained volunteer for Prevent Blindness, I visit all the Day Nursery centers once a year to screen the preschool age children. Wednesday I was at the Day Nursery Hendricks County Early Care and Education Center in Avon. Volunteer Rae Eberle and I screened 33 preschoolers ages 3-5. Our screening included using the Lea Symbol chart to test visual acuity. One of the prime targets of the children’s vision screening program is amplyopia or “lazy eye.” We use the “magic glasses” seen here to test depth perception. If not found and treated by age six, amplyopia can cause visual impairment.
Here is a checklist of indications that you or your child might need a professional eye exam:
- Crossed or misaligned eyes
- Red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen eyelids
- Inflamed or watery eyes
- Recurring sties (infections) on eyelids
- Presence of white pupil in color photo
- Rubs eyes excessively
- Shuts or covers one eye
- Tilts or thrusts head forward
- Has difficulty with reading or other close-up work; holds objects close to eyes
- Blinks more than usual and is irritable when doing close-up work
- Is unable to see distant things clearly
- Squints eyelids together or frowns
- Eyes itch, burn or feel scratchy
- Cannot see well
- Blurred or double vision
- Dizziness, headaches or nausea following close-up work