- Roughly 24% of adolescents in the U.S. with correctable vision issues do not have sufficient access to vision care, and the numbers are likely to rise as increased screen time and reduced outdoor play increase the chances for early onset myopia, EdSource reports.
- Some organizations, such as Vision to Learn, help provide low-income students with eyeglasses, which increase student attention, academic success and test scores. In addition, most insurance plans, including those available under the Affordable Care Act, cover eye exams for children.
- Only a few states, including Kentucky and Illinois, require comprehensive eye exams for children before they start school, but other states, including California, are considering mandating eye exams.
Since much of learning is visual, poor eyesight can impact students profoundly as they try to learn. Since children are not always aware of what “normal” vision is, they may not always communicate to adults when they are having trouble reading texts or seeing items on screens, whiteboards or smartboards.
There are many ways reading can be impacted by vision problems. Short-sightedness is not the only consideration. Eye teaming, focusing and tracking issues can also affect the way students visualize texts, distorting the true nature of the barriers they face in reading. Teachers may suspect issues, but only an eye care professional can determine the exact nature of the problem.
Schools can do their part by encouraging parents to take students for eye exams. In some areas, health departments or other community organizations may be willing to work with schools to screen vision problems at the school. Schools can also raise awareness of organizations and other resources that can help educate parents and defray the cost of glasses and other corrective measures. Vision to Learn, which was founded by current Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, is also making great strides in helping to solve vision issues in several states across the county.