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Health

Dr Louella Varney: Many kids struggle at school due to undiagnosed vision issues

  • Written by Tess Sanders Lazarus
There are students across Australia that are not performing to their full potential due to undiagnosed vision problems.  While the common eye chart is used by eye doctors to measure how well a person sees in the distance compared to other people, many believe the static eye chart may not pick up all vision issues.    

 

According to optometrist Dr Louella Varney, highly respected Behavioural Optometrist and owner of Vision Potential, “current research states one in five kids have an undiagnosed vision problem.”

 

“Undiagnosed vision problems often go undetected by parents, and some parents and teachers don’t link the signs and symptoms of these undiagnosed vision problems to their eyes,” Dr Varney said today.

 

“As a result, kids’ visual issues are often missed and go under the radar.  These undiagnosed visual issues which parents and teachers are unaware of can impact a child’s academic and sporting performance.  

 

“It is quite common for parents to take their child to an optometrist for a standard eye test which involves the child having to read from a static eye chart that is put in from of them.

 

“While this static eye chart picks up some issues, it does not simulate the classroom environment where students’ eyes are constantly moving from the desk, to the board and to other areas of the room as well as moving their eyes from one word to another or from one line to another when reading.

 

“A majority of school learning comes from visual presentation, so poor vision can have a big impact on how a child processes information.

 

“The standard eye test that children undertake does not take into account the various activities that they do during the day and the problem of not being able to manage active vision across the classroom is quite common and continues to be problematic for the student if not treated correctly throughout their school years.

 

“The number of children with undiagnosed vision problems is too high, considering many cases can either be improved or managed once diagnosed.”

 

Dr Varney works with parents and children, normally in primary school, to help them understand what type of vision issues the children may be experiencing.  By conducting a comprehensive consultation, Dr Varney is able to understand what the issues are, what type of action is required and how the problems can be overcome. 

 

“Currently there are screenings conducted at many schools in the prep year throughout Queensland. While they may be helping to identify some issues, they are not necessarily picking up on the  ‘active’ vision problems that require more comprehensive testing,” Dr Varney added.

 

“It is so important that parents and teachers are able to recognise the signs of a child who may be experiencing issues with their eyes and to have these more thoroughly checked as these issues may be hampering school performance as a result.  

 

“School can be challenging enough. Things such as concentration, ability to focus, skipping lines when reading, writing and learning progress may be all indicators of vision issues.  

 

“Many parents do not get their children’s eyes checked regularly enough which can also add to the challenge of identifying ‘active’ vision problems.  

 

“I believe, more awareness is needed across schools and the community when it comes to vision issues.

 

“Vision issues are not always just about seeing a static eye chart clearly and may require more than handing out glasses.  It includes effective eye movement control, eye hand coordination and making sure your child can constantly move and focus smoothly from the desk to the board and to other areas as well as to be able to move from one word to another and one line to another when reading.

 

“These types of issues require other treatment to retrain the eyes to work more effectively.

 

“Vision is a key sense in the classroom and is important in spelling, writing, reading and using a board. A consultation at Vision Potential, which takes 45 minutes, enables us to gain a full understanding of the child’s circumstances.   

 

“It has always been my passion to help children overcome their vision problems because I have seen so many cases in the past where their needs are not properly understood.  By identifying, improving and managing ‘active’ vision issues, I have seen so many of my patients improve their academic and sporting performance.”

 

http://www.optometristbrownsplains.com.au

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