School Screenings May Miss Serious Eye Problems
● By Rick McGarry
Katie was having problems while learning to read in school. She was falling behind other children in her class. She avoided reading and preferred picture books. When she tried to read, words ran together and she would often lose her place. Her teacher noticed that she closed one eye while looking at close objects. Her mother reported that she often had headaches after school, but not on the weekends. This led to a loss of self-esteem and Katie became withdrawn.
These problems were initially attributed to the normal learning process, but they persisted as Katie continued to fall behind in reading and other subjects. However, because she was able to see well far away, she easily passed her school vision screening.
A friend suggested that Katie should see an eye doctor to rule out vision problems that might not be tested for during a standard school screening. A thorough eye exam by an eye doctor found that she was very hyperopic, or far-sighted.
“While school screenings can be helpful, in this case they missed this subtle, yet serious condition. When looking up close, Katie’s eyes have to focus extra hard. This causes an over-focusing condition that makes her eyes want to turn inward. Katie’s farsightedness was missed during the screening and wound up being the cause of her headaches.”, Dr. Gallatin of Livingston Eye Care explains.
His partner Dr. Sheere adds, “We corrected Katie’s hyperopia with eyeglasses. The eyeglasses help her eyes to relax and work naturally to see objects far away and up close without over focusing.”
“If parents think their kids might be having vision problems, even if they’ve passed a school screening, they should have the child checked by an eye doctor. Parents should trust their instincts as they’re often right,” Dr. Gallatin emphasized.
Katie’s parents and teachers report that since receiving her new glasses, she has made dramatic improvements in reading. She now enjoys reading and is not afraid to read in front of her class. She is also making significant improvements in her other subjects as well.
The American Optometric Association recommends a complete eye examination before children start school and every year thereafter. Parents should also watch for signs of problems like squinting, sitting close to the television, avoiding reading, covering one eye, and complaints about headaches, especially at the end of the day. Parents can find more information at www.aoa.org.
Dr. Gallatin and Dr. Sheere are graduates of the Michigan College of Optometry and have been in practice since 1996. Their office, Livingston EyeCare Associates, is located at 7486 East M-36 in Hamburg. They can be reached at 810-231-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.