With classes starting soon, some Nebraska schools are requiring a vision screening for all new students in certain grades. Optometrist Dr. Chad Hudnell, of Grand Island, says children should be having their eyes checked long before they’re heading to school.
“I recommend the child come to see the optometrist at six months of age for a thorough vision exam,” Dr. Hudnell says. “We look for a lot of different eye diseases and problems that could be detrimental to the vision as the child is growing. And then at age three and then right before kindergarten and then every year thereafter during the school years.”
While a child of six months certainly can’t read an eye chart, Hudnell says infants and toddlers still need to be examined.
“You can get a lot of information by looking at the eyes of an infant,” he says, “looking for eye diseases, seeing what their prescription would be. The exams are different but valuable none the less.”
Studies have found that kids who do poorly in school may see a radical improvement just if their previously-undiagnosed vision problems are fixed.
“Eighty percent of learning is vision-related and if that’s the case, we need to make sure the child is seeing well, their eyes are going to be working correctly so they can learn,” Hudnell says. “There’s enough hurdles in learning and we don’t want vision to be one of them.”
Sixty percent of students identified as problem learners have undetected vision problems. A study by the American Foundation in Vision Awareness finds one in four children has a vision problem.