Self-defense for the eyes -2
Eye See, Therefore Eye Am
In our first post (Part 1), I introduced to you the concepts of farsightedness (hyperopia) and nearsightedness (myopia). (I also shared with you one of my favorite tricks to keep these two terms less confusing.)
Hopefully by reading that post, you came away with the understanding that nearsightedness can be caused by factors other than genetics alone. Indeed, factors such as the environment and stress can also play a large role. With that understanding, let’s now dig a little deeper into the intricate relationship between vision and the environment.
What is the Visual System?
The visual system (composed of the eye and the brain) is the dominant sensory system in humans. This means your eyes collect more information from the environment than any other human system—even more than your ears, skin, or nose!
It is estimated that 70% of what a child learns occurs through their visual system. Despite this fact, today there is still a large percentage of children in this country, and around the world, who have not had a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist. Most grade schools, and pediatrician offices, perform whats called a “vision screening.”
Unfortunately, most parents, not of their own fault, are left to believe that vision screenings are the same as eye examinations. Although helpful, a vision screening is not a substitute for the comprehensive eye examination one would receive from an optometrist. If your child is between the ages of 6 and 12 months old, contact your local optometrist to schedule her first comprehensive eye examination
Eye Stress too Much
Most children do not read like adults. Instead of reading in a relaxed state, children often create stress within their visual system. This occurs because of their inherent high level of concentration while performing near visual tasks. They read as if they were trying to burn a hole in the page using their eyes. This also can be brought on by not reading within the proper environment (lighting, sitting position, reading surface, etc.), which can lead to reduced visual performance and development.
At one time or another, we have all witnessed a child locked into a catatonic state while playing video games, texting, reading, etc. Even adults can relate to this attentive stupor, for example after the arrival of a long-awaited novel by their favorite beloved author. But unlike adults, the eyes of most children cannot easily return to a state of rest once they stop their up-close reading activity.
When children look at objects held up-close at a fixed distance, and over an extended period of time, the focusing muscle in their eyes often becomes locked at that distance. This can last for minutes, hours, or even days! And this can be easily recognized when a child complains that their vision is blurry, even after an optometrist has ruled out the need for corrective lenses. What the child really needs is a modification to their reading environment and reading habits.
You Are Doing Great!
Please go back and ruminate over the first two blogs. They set the stage for a deeper understanding of the why, when, and hows of meeting a child’s visual needs. When all is said and done, you will fully appreciate how preventative eye care methods (sleepSEE, low-plus readers, nutrition) are paramount, not only for your child’s academic and sports performance, but also for their overall development.
Stay tuned and thanks for joining me!