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A School Vision Screening is Not a Substitute for a Comprehensive Eye Exam

A school vision screening, while a highly useful tool in schools, is limited and designed only to check your child’s distance vision. It can tell you how well your child can read a chart that is 20 feet away and it may also have a color vision test, but the simplicity of the test will miss a number of other possible vision problems.

A vision screening tests only for visual sharpness, meaning it can overlook the 15-20% students that have other visual disorders. Your child may pass the vision screening but still not see well enough to read a book. She or he may be “farsighted”, have tracking problems, a binocular vision disorder or amblyopia (lazy eye), none of these are diagnosed in a routine school vision screening.

If your child doesn’t see well, she or he won’t learn well.

The vision skills that are needed for successful reading and learning are more complex than 20/20 vision. They are about more than just clear vision, they are about understanding and responding to what they are seeing.

Visual skills needed for successful learning:

    • Visual Acuity – seeing clearly at a distance
    • Eye Focusing – being able to maintain clear vision as the distance to an object changes. Example: Looking from the board, to your paper and back.
    • Eye Tracking – keeping eyes on a target when moving along a page or following a thrown object.
    • Eye Teaming – both eyes working together when reading or judging distances in sports or school
    • Hand-Eye Coordination – using visual information to direct ones hands
    • Visual Perception
      • Recognition – knowing the difference between letters
      • Comprehension – the ability to “picture” in one’s mind what is happening
      • Retention – the ability to remember details about what one has just read

Children, particularly younger children, might not be able tell you when they are having trouble seeing things. Even if your child passed a vision screening, please pay attention to these warning signs:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • Sitting close to the TV or holding reading materials close to the face
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading, coloring, puzzles and other close activities
  • Frequent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what he or she read
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding

The AOA says that up to 80% of a child’s learning happens through their eyes. Visual problems can develop at any time without you or your child noticing. Make sure that your child gets the best chance she or he can get by making eye exams a regular part of your back-to-school process.

Contact our office today at (402)493-6500 to set up and appointment for your child’s comprehensive eye exam.

Written by Dr. Holly Ternus

Dr. Holly Ternus is originally from Torrington, Wyoming, and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in biological sciences. She graduated with Honors from The New England College of Optometry and completed internships with Honors at South Boston Community Health Center with an emphasis in glaucoma and narrow-angle glaucoma, Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center with an emphasis in ocular disease, Lifetime Eyecare in Houston fitting specialty contact lenses, and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Dr. Ternus practiced with ophthalmology in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, specializing in ocular disease, dry eye disease, and emergency care. She then transitioned into primary care, fitting specialty contacts for keratoconus, post-RK, corneal ectasia, and irregular corneas.

Dr. Ternus is an active member of the Nebraska Optometric Association, American Optometry Association, and American Academy of Optometry. She received her fellowship with the American Academy of Optometry in 2018 and is a graduate of the Nebraska Optometric Association’s Leadership Institute. She also received her fellowship in the Scleral Lens Education Society and is the first in Nebraska to have completed this honor.

Outside of work, Dr. Ternus enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 children, snowboarding, skiing, water sports, watching Husker football, and everything that involves being outdoors.

More Articles By Dr. Holly Ternus

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Vision therapy is an effective, non-surgical, doctor-supervised treatment that retrains the brain and eyes to work together more efficiently. Rather than compensate for vision problems, vision therapy aims to treat and correct the visual system itself.

Discover how we can help you or your child overcome vision problems such as strabismus and amblyopia, and build a greater sense of confidence. Take our vision therapy quiz today!

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We’re located just off Nicholas Street across from Westroads Mall. If you have trouble finding us, please give us a call at 402-493-6500.

Our Address

  • 9900 Nicholas St, Suite #250
  • Omaha, NE 68114

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Hours of Operation

  • Monday: 8:15 AM 5:15 PM
  • Tuesday: 9:00 AM 5:15 PM
  • Wednesday: 8:15 AM 5:15 PM
  • Thursday: 8:15 AM 5:15 PM
  • Friday: 8:15 AM 5:15 PM
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed
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