BY CALEB COX AND EMILY BELT, MEDARVA Healthcare
Untreated vision problems can lead to kids being called “hyper,” “distracted,” or a “slow learner.”
The goal of MEDARVA Healthcare’s Vision & Hearing Screening program is simply to help as many children as possible. Encompassed in this goal is our driving mission to ensure no one is incorrectly labeled without a full medical investigation. MEDARVA partners with community organizations in the greater Richmond metropolitan area to bring medical assistance to those in need. In advance of the school year, we have launched a social media campaign and are hitting the streets to advance our anti-labeling mission.
We want to encourage the community to have conversations around the importance of identifying and treating children’s medical needs. The new initiative seeks to involve parents, grandparents, and caregivers to school administrators and educators. We seek to increase awareness of potential conditions that might be ignored or lead to children being wrongfully medicated. In the long run, moving a disruptive child to the back of a classroom does not help the child or the teacher.
Last year in Henrico County alone, the program screened 954 prekindergarten children using the plusoptiX S12C vision screener; 49 ended up needing glasses. The educators told us that, although the number may seem modest, the impact in the students’ and teachers’ lives is immeasurable. Often, the outcome of a vision screening is a behavioral fix. “Rebellious” children maybe frustrated by their vision problems. We frequently hear stories of previously shy children who come out of their shell after receiving needed vision correction. The precise nature of the Plusoptix Vision Screener results helps convince sometimes skeptical parents their child needs a full eye exam.
One director told us about a child who was struggling with writing, fine, and gross motor skills. A vision problem was uncovered through screening. With glasses, the child’s performance was greatly improved and he needed less specialized therapy.
It has been estimated that about 80% of learning is mediated through vision. Because children only know what they have experienced, out-of-focus letters and words may seem normal to them. Therefore, it can be easy for a parent, caregiver, or educator to miss an underlying problem. Vision screenings in preschool aged children can identify the need for treatment early, when it is most successful. Children’s vision can change dramatically during a short time span.
Signs that may indicate a child has a vision problem include:
- Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
- Avoiding reading and other close activities
- Frequent headaches
- Covering one eye
- Tilting or turning the head to one side
- Holding reading materials close to the face
- An eye turning in or out
- Seeing double
- Losing place when reading
- Difficulty remembering what he or she read
- Attempt to do work, but with a lower level of comprehension
- Discomfort and fatigue
- Short attention span
Any child is at risk of struggling in school and life because of a missed diagnosis. We should investigate underlying medical causes before attaching a label to an individual.
Emily Belt leads the MEDARVA Vision & Hearing Screening Program and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Caleb Cox is the director of business development for MEDARVA Healthcare and can be reached at email@example.com.
For more information about the Plusoptix Vision Screener, please refer to our homepage.
More interesting blogposts are available here: PlusoptixUSA Blog.