All eyes forward

Panhandle Health

By: RICK WILLIS, Staff Reporter

Fact: children don’t complain about weak vision.

According to Dr. Jacob Krieg, an optometrist with Bluff’s Vision Care, the kids aren’t trying to hide anything, they just don’t have a reference point for correct vision.

“You ask a child about their vision and they say ‘I see fine,’” Krieg said. “Then you turn on the chart and they can’t read a line.”

Eye exams for kids entering kindergarten and seventh grade are designed to check for eye function and to ensure their sight is functioning at a level that can help them succeed in school. Poor eyesight makes kids study harder than those with good eye function.

Krieg said a major concern in younger kids is lazy eye in which one eye is dominated by the other. The lazy eye may not develop properly leading to loss of binocular vision, difficulty in studying or having to study harder to accomplish the same results as a child with normal vision.

Farsightedness or nearsightedness can also create problems in the classroom for children.

“Kids can over-focus to get by but the eyes can be strained,” Krieg said. “They can have headaches, lack of concentration and have difficulty reading.”

In kindergarten, Krieg said he sees the kids with high correction needs early on more than others, but that correction needs change fast for second- through fifth graders. When kids don’t have corrective lenses they can over-focus and actually cross their eyes while reading.

Krieg said some kids actually become better at math because they don’t have to focus as long as they do to read books.

 “They can’t track well on the page and bring the book right up to their face,” Krieg said. “It’s tough on kids.”

Krieg said screeners can get 80 percent of the issues but an eye exam will catch everything. Office exams help catch subtle changes in eye movements and the exam can be modified immediately with various pieces of equipment.

“The majority of those who need glasses start early and most do not complain until their vision is blurry,” Krieg said. “We need to check the function of the eye. We can help them not to have to study so hard.”

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