Vision problems among kids are more common than many people realize. According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, around 450 million children globally have eye conditions that need treatment, while 90 million children are already living with some form of vision loss. While most believe that protecting children’s vision falls only under the responsibility of parents and healthcare workers, teachers actually play an important role in it as well. Below are the reasons why and several ways to do it.
Why students’ vision matters and the role teachers have in it
One of the most important reasons why eye health matters to young kids is its impact on their academic performance, learning, and overall development. These factors are extremely crucial at this stage in life, as young kids are still developing and growing. According to a UCLA study, 80% of a child’s learning occurs through visual means, whether it’s reading, writing, or using educational materials. As such, having good eye health enables children to explore the world around them, engage in physical activities, and develop their spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination.
Clear vision is also essential for a child’s social and emotional well-being. Kids with poor vision may struggle to recognize faces, make eye contact, or interpret facial expressions, which can hinder social interactions and the development of non-verbal and verbal communication skills.
One of the primary reasons why teachers play a role in keeping children’s vision safe is due to the fact that they are in a unique position to identify potential vision problems early on. As children spend a lot of their waking hours at school, teachers are able to interact with them on a daily basis and are able to observe their behavior and performance up close. This enables them to notice any signs of vision issues such as squinting, rubbing of eyes, or sitting too close to the board. By being vigilant and proactive in spotting these signs, teachers can help ensure that any vision problems are addressed promptly, preventing long-term damage to the children’s eyes.
How teachers can help protect kids’ vision
Collaborating with parents to enforce healthy eye habits
Besides educating their students, teachers can also educate parents regarding vision health and suggest how to reinforce healthy eye habits at home. They can provide parents with resources on how to protect children’s vision, like booking eye exams and procuring kids’ prescription glasses for those who need them. These types of glasses are just the same as prescription glasses for teens and adults. They can be customized with specific prescriptions, from single lenses to progressive lenses, and can be added with additional protective properties like anti-reflection and UV protection coatings.
Older elementary kids can also be introduced to disposable contact lenses, so long as they’re at least eight years old and have a guardian’s supervision. Since these can drastically improve social and cognitive development as fuss-free vision corrective options. Regardless, all these interventions can greatly improve student eye health and academic performance, especially if introduced early—hence, the value of being able to suggest them as soon as possible.
Making adjustments to create eye-friendly classrooms
Another way teachers can help protect kids’ vision is by taking proactive steps to create a classroom environment that supports good vision health. This can include ensuring that classroom lighting is adequate, minimizing glare from windows or electronic devices, making classroom materials like visual schedules big enough for easy reading, and arranging seating arrangements to accommodate kids with vision problems better.
Making use of classroom aids such as large-print books or handouts of lessons can also be less straining for kids’ eyes, while simultaneously helping increase their engagement and attention. By prioritizing optimal learning conditions, teachers are not only helping to prevent potential vision problems but are also promoting their overall well-being.