School vision screenings are done in nurses’ offices around the country.
Although not nearly as comprehensive as a full eye exam, school screenings generally do a good job of picking up problems with distance vision.
Parents are often surprised to receive a notice from the school nurse. Many children with blurry vision don’t complain– they don’t realize that they’re not seeing what they’re supposed to see, or may compensate by moving up closer to the board, copying from a classmate, asking a friend for help, or even acting out to distract the class from the situation rather than admit they cannot see.
If your child is having trouble with distance vision, it is likely that they have myopia (also known as nearsightedness). Myopia is a condition where the eye grows too long, and the vision far away becomes blurry as a result.
During an eye exam, the optometrist will recheck your child’s vision. Visual acuity is measured as a number, like 20/40 or 20/200. To understand how this number relates to your child’s vision, know that 20/20 means that your child can see from 20 feet away what someone with “normal” vision can see from 20 feet away– so if a child has 20/20, they have clear distance vision.
20/40 vision means that you can see from 20 feet away what someone with normal vision can see from 40 feet away! So if you’re in the car with your child, you might have to drive much closer for them to be able to read a sign that you can read from further back.
Myopia is common and is treated in two ways. The blurry vision is addressed with eyeglasses or contact lenses to help your child see clearly. However, if this is all that is done, myopia will continue to increase as the eye grows.
We recommend myopia management, with eye drops, multifocal contact lenses, or overnight orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses. These therapies help slow down the growth of the eye and minimize the progression of the prescription.
Although myopia is a likely culprit, there are other eye health conditions that can cause vision to be blurry.
Comprehensive eye exams should be done yearly for all school-age children to ensure clear comfortable vision and optimal eye health.