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The junior high school and high school years frequently produce the first signs of vision problems for teenagers. The inability to see objects at a distance is very common during the teenage years, creating difficulties in the classroom and a range of other activities, such as driving. Experts believe that approximately 80 percent of what children learn at school is visually presented information. Therefore, good vision is crucial for students of all ages in order to reach their full academic potential.
Refractive Errors: Parents should first rule out basic refractive errors when a teen has trouble in school. Refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism are common among teenagers. An early diagnosis of refractive errors and other vision issues can assist in detecting learning-related visiondifficulties. Less noticeable vision problems associated with the function of the eyes and how visual information is processed by the brain, can also restrain your teen’s learning ability.
Vision-Related Learning Problems: The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) reports that vision-related learning problems can affect a teen’s academic and reading abilities. Common difficulties affect eye coordination, eye focusing, eye tracking, visual form perception, visual memory, or visual motor integration. These vision problems, if left untreated, can negatively impact a teen’s social skills, academic performance, and athletic capability.
Unidentified and uncorrected vision problems account for 80 percent of reading difficulties among teenagers. Recent studies have shown that vision problems may even prevent teenagers from graduating from high school. According to the Eye Care Council, over 70 percent of juvenile delinquents and 60 percent of adults in literacy programs have undetected visual problems.
Signs of Vision Problems: According to the American Optometric Association, some physical signs of vision problems can include headaches, eye strain, blurring of distance or near vision after reading or close work, not participating in visually demanding tasks, and poor depth judgment or hand-eye coordination. Poor reading comprehension, letter, word, or number reversals, trouble distinguishing sizes and shapes, poor handwriting, and short attention span with schoolwork can also be signs of learning related vision problems.
How Parents Can Help
Good vision allows teenagers to feel comfortable, self-confident, and achieve their true potential whether it is at school, work, or play. Watch for signs of vision or learning problems closely. Even if your teen doesn’t show signs of vision problems, it is vital that he or she receives a comprehensive eye examination annually to help detect any visual deficiencies early on.