A child squints when he cannot see writing on the blackboard. This may mean he does not (or cannot) copy a homework assignment. The teacher tells the parent the child is not doing all his work. That may be the first time the parent knows about her child’s vision problem.
There are many reasons children do not see well. Almost all the time they need glasses. Their not having their vision checked is often because the family does not have enough money.
Even when kids get eye glasses, they may not get follow-up checkups to see if their eyesight has changed. Or the kids break or lose the glasses. Replacing them costs money. One in five children who need glasses lives in a family that cannot afford them.
Many children have lived all their lives with poor vision. They simply do not know they have poor eyesight. They do not know that they see poorly.
The problem is most common among Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic blacks. When money matters, it is the poor and minorities who suffer.
Children who do not see well are often thought to be less intelligent. They are assigned to classes for children with learning problems. Sometimes they are disruptive. Sometimes they are thought to have a problem with attention. When one study looked at kids with such problems, they found nearly all of them had some vision problem.
A program called ChildSight screens up to 100,000 middle school and high school children every year. They give vision tests and send glasses to those who need them. Check programs in your school district to see how they are dealing with the vision challenge.
Source: The New York Times December 14, 2015