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Children's vision takes trip back to school

Community Health


It’s that time of year again; watching for the school bus, checking the clock to make sure you’re on time for class, watching the teacher write on the overhead, and of course reading. All these tasks are quite easy unless your child has a vision problem.

When we think of kids and vision problems we generally think of garden variety nearsightness and astigmatism. Simple glasses and contacts can often clear vision adequately.

Imagine seeing blurred in one eye and clear in the other, or seeing double unless you close one eye. Can you see how this might get in the way of understanding what you’re looking at? Imagine getting tired or feeling eye strain with reading; or getting blurred vision after reading or working at the computer for a school assignment. Can you see how this might cause frustration with school work?

It’s been found that a high majority of learning is done visually in the U.S. school system. In the first two to three grades students learn to read letters and words. Then, as letter and word understanding is mastered, students progress to reading to learn, book reports being a good example. When a vision problem is present, it becomes harder to recognize letters, words and phrases-causing the person to often skip words and/or reread words and sentences. So much time and energy is spent doing these simple tasks, that there’s not time and energy for visual comprehension of full sentences and paragraphs.

Thank goodness there are various remedies to solve these visual problems. It may be as simple as reading glasses. Sometimes, vision therapy and even surgery is needed. Contact lenses can often help when there is a large difference between the eyes in correction power need. They help the two eyes see the object closer to the same size, versus different sizes with glasses-causing a modified double vision. These remedies help cut out the confusion in vision; so the brain can concentrate on comprehension, versus object recognition only.

One last item that is becoming an issue. We’re seeing disease processes in children, such as diabetes and high blood pressure that were thought only to occur in older adults. These diseases or precursors to them are readily seen in the eyes, especially with a retinal imaging device. Therefore, an eye exam can not only tell you about your children’s vision needs, but may also be a good monitor of their overall health.

Dr. Scott Borgholthaus is owner of Vision Haus Optometry in Cheney. He is a member of the Optometric Physicians of Washington and has been in private practice for over 27 years.

Dr. Borgholthaus would love to answer and/or include any questions or comments in future columns. Please send questions or comments to

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