Contrary to popular understanding, however, having 20/20 vision isn’t the entire story of healthy eyesight. It’s only a tiny fraction; it simply means that you can see something clearly from 20 feet away without glasses. That doesn’t account for a wide range of vision problems unrelated to basic refractive errors, and those are likely to remain undiagnosed and untreated without a comprehensive eye exam.
Some eye problems are accompanied by obvious symptoms, like crossed eyes or a lazy eye, but most are a lot more subtle, especially in kids. Young children can’t identify what they’re experiencing as abnormal, so they don’t think to describe the problem to an adult. All they’re aware of is that they can’t seem to perform as well as their peers in school or sports even when they try their hardest. They end up confused, upset, and discouraged, adults around them are often frustrated, and too many of these kids are misdiagnosed with learning disorders while their eye problems remain untreated.
Symptoms of eye problems to watch for include:
When eyesight works correctly, both eyes are working together. This is called binocular vision. If you want to see how it works, just cover one eye, focus on an object, and then switch eyes. Human eyes aren’t very far apart, but they do see from slightly different angles, and the differences between the two images create a live 3D image that makes it possible for us to judge how far away things are.
Binocular vision can be affected by a variety of problems:
Most of these problems with binocular vision dysfunction are treatable with visual therapy or corrective lenses, but they must be diagnosed before they can be treated! Some of them may require surgery to correct.
The school nurse will give students the big E test, but that can only diagnose nearsightedness. A comprehensive eye exam, however, can test for all the other vision problems we’ve described and more. An undiagnosed vision problem can create ripple effects throughout a child’s entire school career. Many adults today grew up with an undiagnosed vision problem. Make sure to schedule your child for a comprehensive eye exam so that we can catch any eye problems they may have.