It’s August, and that means it’s Vision & Learning Month! Every year, COVD encourages families to start the school year right with a comprehensive vision exam. But what exactly makes a vision exam with a COVD member “comprehensive,” and why isn’t a standard eye chart test enough?

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There’s a lot more to learning!

Unless you’re a lifelong learner or recent grad, it’s probably been a while since you sat in class and took notes during a lesson. Imagine for a moment what it’s like to be there and all the work your eyes need to do.

Your teacher is writing something on the board, so you look up at it and decipher the words (simultaneous and sustained focus and alignment at far, sustained alignment at far, visual perception, central vision/acuity). She says it will be on the exam later, so you pick up your pencil and start jotting down a combination of the words she’s written and the extra information she says aloud (visual integration, eye movement control, simultaneous and sustained focus and alignment at near, central vision/acuity). Some things are written in red for emphasis, so you’re sure to get out your highlighter and go back over those items with bright pink (color perception, fine visual-motor, eye movement control). No wonder kids are exhausted at the end of the day!

Adding in all those visual skills makes the whole process sound quite complicated, and you might be surprised to know that a standard vision screening only tests for central vision, also known as acuity. When a doctor tells you your child’s vision is “20/20,” acuity is the only aspect of vision that’s included in that number.

Even though we only looked at a few moments of the school day, it’s easy to see that there’s a lot more visual work going on than acuity. If your child can “sort of” tell what the letters are on the eye chart, that might be enough to “sort of” read what the teacher writes on the board. But switching from a far-away board to a close-up notebook, moving the eyes together across lines of text, and coordinating it all while listening and writing at the same time? 20/20 acuity is only a small piece of the puzzle for demands like those!

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Take the pre-test…

Parents, it’s time for your pre-test. Take COVD’s Quality of Life Checklist survey to get a head-start on your child’s comprehensive vision exam. You’ll be asked some questions about signs and symptoms you may have noticed with your child, and a print-out of the answers can help the initial appointment feel less daunting. Once you’ve finished the checklist, you’ll receive a final score and be directed to a list of COVD members in your area! All members of COVD are optometrists who specialize in developmental and behavioral vision care, and the comprehensive vision exams they provide will check your child’s visual skills beyond the “20/20” of acuity.

…or skip right to the exam!

If you’re already suspicious that your child could have a vision problem, or if they haven’t had their annual exam yet this year, you can skip the checklist and Locate a Doctor near you right away. A COVD member in your area is ready to look at the big picture of your child’s vision and evaluate all the visual skills necessary for a school year of success!

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