Drug testing

Vision: 20/20 Is Not Enough!

Now is an excellent time to have your child's vision checked. Don't be too quick to say, "My child's vision is fine: 20/20!" In many cases that is not enough.

The Snellen chart, the instrument most frequently used to test eyesight, often gives people a false sense of security about their vision. It measures only acuity -- and that at a distance of 20 feet. How much does your child read at that distance?

The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that about 25 percent of children enter school with vision problems that can impede their school progress. Almost 50 percent of children with learning difficulties have vision problems, and up to 94 percent of children with reading problems have reduced visual skills.

Why does the Snellen chart leave some of these problems undetected? Vision involves much more than the sharpness of an image. It involves focusing -- and refocusing as attention shifts between far and near (as when copying from the board). It involves binocularity, the two eyes working together to capture accurate pictures of our world and of the printed page. Vision also involves perception, the brain's interpretation of the images taken in by the eyes.

Many people believe that vision should be checked by an ophthalmologist, the person with the highest credentials. While it is true that an ophthalmologist is an M.D., he or she has spent about the same amount of time studying the anatomy, functions, and diseases of the eye as an optometrist has spent studying vision alone. To check my child's vision I would seek an optometrist, specifically a "developmental" or "behavioral" optometrist. Not only will the vision exam be more thorough, but the developmental optometrist may prescribe a course of "vision therapy" to remedy problems.

Often we take vision for granted and do not think of it as a learned behavior. Because it is learned, however, through practice we can improve it. Experts speculate that the frequency of vision problems may be increasing because with television, video games, and computers, children today do not use their eyes in as many different ways as children did formerly; overall the vision of children entering school is less developed than it was a few decades ago.

What symptoms might indicate a vision problem? Any time a bright person struggles with reading, further investigation is warranted. Consider these specific questions in relation to yourself as well as in relation to your children or students. Answering yes to even a few of the questions justifies further examination. Do not discount a "yes" even if it is limited to special circumstances, such as fatigue.

Do you (or does the child) . . .

? hold reading material extremely close or far away?

? have poor posture or an unusual head tilt while doing close work?

? squint the eyes or open them very wide?

? cover one eye?

? frequently blink or rub the eyes?

? suffer from headaches, eyestrain, or fatigue?

? require excessive time to complete schoolwork or other near tasks?

? lose a place often when copying?

? skip words or lines when reading?

? report that words on a page blur or move?

? have poor comprehension of material read?

? run words together when writing?

? have poor hand-eye coordination?

I have first-hand experience with vision problems. I will be eternally grateful to Jane Porchey, my younger son's kindergarten teacher, for identifying his vision problem in October. She noticed that although he could count, he kept getting the wrong answer when counting dots in a square. Working with him individually and having him point to the dots as he counted them, she discovered that for him the dots moved. It is not unusual for children with vision problems to have words and letters swim on the page, appearing and disappearing, doing flip-flops. Imagine trying to read under these circumstances! Even if you could manage to decode the words, you would have very little reserve attention to devote to comprehension.

Life can be very frustrating for people with vision problems. The world as a whole is likely to be fluid and chaotic for them. School in particular is likely to become a source of failure. It has been found that 70 percent of juvenile delinquents have vision problems that interfere with their ability to achieve. In one study, however, the rate of recidivism dropped from 45 percent to 16 percent when offenders received on-site vision therapy.

People with vision problems usually do not realize that they have them; they have no reason to think that their view of the world is different from everyone else's.

My son's story has a happy ending. After a few weeks of vision therapy, his eyes began working together better. Letters and numbers were less mobile. He was able to corral his writing into primary triple-rule. By spring his penmanship looked like the handwriting chart. His behavior improved, too. The frustration he had experienced in school -- and in the world in general -- had often made him sad, contrary, and belligerent. Once he discovered order in his world, he became cheerful, confident, generous.

Two self-portraits -- both made in kindergarten -- show how John changed as a result of vision therapy. The first, made in September, shows the most forlorn-looking child I have ever seen. I did not even recognize him as the child I had lived with for six years. The crayon lines are rather faintly drawn. One eye is about an inch lower than the other; he has no nose or mouth. Stringlike arms issue from his sides, the right arm about three times longer than the left. His right arm sprouts three fingers; his left arm, five, the shortest of which is longer than the arm itself. Although a patch of magenta represents his shorts, he has no legs or feet.

The second self-portrait, done in May, includes me. The lines of the drawing are firm. We both have noses, U-shaped smiles, and eyes that are directly across from each other. We both have legs and feet. We are, in fact, nearly identical as we stand with our arms around each other.

Preschoolers -- even infants -- can benefit from examination by a developmental optometrist. If a problem is identified very early, correction might be possible before the problem has a chance to cause difficulty in school. Adults, too, can benefit from vision therapy.

I urge you to have your children's vision evaluated by a developmental optometrist as soon as possible, particularly if your children are having learning difficulties or if vision problems run in your family. Such an evaluation can only work for good. If a problem is discovered, you can begin working to correct it. If no problem is identified, you will have ruled out one possible cause of learning difficulties. That, too, is worthwhile.

For additional information about symptoms, therapy, and parent support groups, visit this site sponsored by Parents Active for Vision Education (P.A.V.E.), a national non-profit organization: http://www.pavevision.org/

A parent and former teacher, Fran Hamilton is the author of Hands-On English, now in its second edition. Hands-On English gives quick access to English fundamentals and makes grammar visual by using icons to represent parts of speech. The book is for anyone 9 years or older, including adults. Fran also publishes companion products to Hands-On English and free e-mail newsletters: LinguaPhile, published monthly, is for people who teach and/or enjoy English; Acu-Write, published weekly, addresses common errors in English. For more information, visit http://www.GrammarAndMore.com.

In The News:

An international team of scientists has unraveled the mystery behind the sudden deaths of 200,000 antelopes in Kazakhstan in May 2015.
A "potentially hazardous asteroid" known as 2002 AJ129 is set to fly by Earth at a whopping 67,000 miles per hour next month, there is no need to worry, scientists say.
NASA tested its powerful RS-25 engine for the first time in 2018 with a new part that was made in an unconventional way.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth last year wasn't quite as hot as 2016's record-shattering mark, but it ranked second or third, depending on who was counting.
Authorities in Tennessee got an unexpected surprise when they responded to a burglary alarm at a cell phone store.
Divers in the blue waters around the Yucatán Peninsula have discovered three historic treasures: a sunken lighthouse and the remains of an 18th-century Dutch warship and a 19th-century British steamer, according to Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
An alligator and a Burmese python were locked in a cold-blooded battle to the death as a crowd watched in shock at a golf course in Naples, Fla.
A team of experts in Mexico has discovered two linked underwater caverns that are more than 4,000 years old and form the largest known such cave on earth.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — How does a bighorn sheep say "cheese?"
Our solar system may be an oddball in the universe.

How to Help Your Children to Blossom

I am writing this from the beautiful mountains of Western... Read More

How Kids Learn To Cooperate In Video Games -- A Guide for Parents and Teachers

A great many parents are concerned that the electronic games... Read More

Coping With Colic

Quite simply, an absolute nightmare for parents and babies alike,... Read More

Your Kids Career - Whose Choice?

A strange thing happened to me today. Or more precisely,... Read More

Build Character Now! Practical Tools for Busy Parents

"To educate a person in mind and not in morals... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: Truth or Lie?

Attention all parents of teen-agers. Here is an important, groundbreaking... Read More

10 Secrets To Know You?re A Good Working Parent To Your Kids!

How are parents to know they are doing the right... Read More

Parents --- Your Childrens Report Card May Be Rigged

Under the "No Child Left Behind Act," public schools whose... Read More

Powerful Tips for Increasing Your Childs Self-Esteem

Here is a list of ways to convey the message... Read More

Tips for Parents of Teenagers: Dont Just Survive - Thrive!

What makes parenting so challenging at times? One widespread research... Read More

Parent Involvement: Finding Your Way in Middle School and High School

In elementary school it's pretty straightforward: bringing in cupcakes to... Read More

Aptitude, Achievement, Processing Deficit - What Does It All Mean?

You are sitting with the professionals who know about learning... Read More

Grandparents --- Homeschool Your Grandchildren and Feel Younger

Grandparents, what better way to stay close to your grown... Read More

Considering Daycare? Consider the Pros and Cons

When you're a parent it's a difficult decision to know... Read More

CPR: Why You Should Know It

I never dreamed that I would be in a position... Read More

Diana, Princess of Whales

Younger generations unfortunately will not understand how larger than life... Read More

Son, Can I Use The Car Tonight?

I recall somewhere in the recesses of my aging brain... Read More

Parents Role in Helping with Car Wash Fundraisers

As a parent you will be asked to assist with... Read More

Parenting: The Road I Chose

Tripping over the shoes and toys that seem to clutter... Read More

Goal Setting for Kids

Goal setting is essential for building a successful life. However,... Read More

Discipline

Discipline is a necessary part of parenting yet it makes... Read More

My Children

I have been a single mom for almost 20 years.... Read More

Ten Tips for a Great First Day of School!

Many children are jittery on the first day of school.... Read More

Classic Parenting: Encouragement, Praise, Acceptance, and Responsibility

Encouragement comes when you focus on your child's assets and... Read More

Home And School Education - Your Kids Can Benefit From Both!

Once, as a Learning Support Teacher, I made my way... Read More

street light manufacturer led light facts Pete's produce ..