A Child’s Eye View…

August is Children’s Eye Health Awareness Month, and as kids get ready to start the new school year, getting an eye exam is very important. One in four children in the United States has impaired vision. Most vision challenges are correctible with glasses. But some, if left untreated, can lead to permanent vision loss. Vision issues can impact learning – a recent study found that 60% of children with learning difficulties have undetected vision loss.

It is sometimes difficult to know that a child is having trouble seeing. Some signs of vision loss are more noticeable when kids are playing sports or other games. These signs include poor hand-eye coordination, problems with depth perception and challenges with eye tracking ability. Here are some other common signs that a child may have vision difficulties:

    • Eye discomfort when using a computer or digital device
    • Tilting the head or squinting to see the class board better or to watch TV
    • Frequent eye rubbing when trying to concentrate on something
    • Holding a book too close to their eyes or sitting close to the TV
    • Consistently using fingers to guide their eyes when reading
    • Excessive tearing without any tear-causing stimuli
    • Sensitivity to light, sometimes accompanied by headache or nausea

Society for the Blind’s CareersPLUS Youth Program works with kids who have vision loss to help them learn adaptive techniques, get acquainted with assistive devices, learn Braille and grow in confidence. Our After-School Academy provides one-to-one tutoring for kids in elementary through high school. Workshops are offered on varying topics for children of all ages. Our Family Fun workshops engage the entire family in activities such as watching audio-adaptive movies, cooking without looking, and playing cards and board games. Currently we are offering all of these services virtually via Zoom or telephone.

Photo of OT assisting with the use of a video magnifier.

Our Low Vision Clinic occupational therapists teach clients how to use their remaining vision effectively and use assistive technology such as the video magnifier shown here.

We also serve children with vision loss in our Low Vision Clinic, where our occupational therapists teach them how to use their remaining vision effectively and use assistive technology such as video magnifiers to make doing homework easier.

We know that children with vision loss are facing unique challenges with remote learning. Some online learning programs are not fully accessible with screen-reading and magnification software. Access to assistive technology can be limited. We are working with families and schools to ensure kids with vision loss can access their lessons and get the devices they need at home. All of our instructors are blind or have low vision and understand the challenges these kids face. Our instructors use their own ingenuity to teach kids how to overcome obstacles so they can learn and succeed in school – be it virtual or in person.

Children living with vision loss or blindness can attain the same academic and professional goals as their sighted peers if they have access to the resources they need. If you know a child who may have vision challenges, please contact Society for the Blind. Together, we can ensure that every child with vision loss or blindness can discover, develop and achieve their full potential.

For more information about our services for children, please contact us at info@societyfortheblind.org or (916) 452-8271.