News and Advice on Myopia and General Eye Care for Patients and Professionals

Nearsightedness in the Classroom: An Elementary School Teacher’s Perspective

Paragon Vision September 26, 2019

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What grade is your child in? Maybe they are just getting started with school in Kindergarten, maybe they are learning science and math in 5th grade, or maybe they are honing their reading skills in 2nd grade. 80% of what a child learns in school is information that is presented visually; whichever stage your child is at in their education – vision is primary.1 Often it is a teacher or school nurse who first notices that a child is struggling from a vision problem. Because of this we sat down with 2nd grade teacher, Sara Pessimisis from Taft Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona. Ms. Pessimisis gave her perspective on vision issues in the classroom.

Vision Problems 101

“The first sign I see [of vision problems] in the classroom is the child holds his/her books or papers very close to his/her face. I’ve even seen a child hold a paper so close you could probably fit your index finger in between the space of the paper and their eyes. Another sign is children will experience headaches. Some children have a shorter attention span. Some children will always need to come up to the front of the classroom to see closer to the screen.” Says Pessimisis. What Ms. Pessimisis describes are common symptoms of nearsightedness according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.2

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is where far away objects appear blurry and out-of-focus.  Nearsightedness can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors.3 Myopia is becoming a global crisis. The disease has increased by 66% in the U.S. since 1971.4 By 2050 it is expected nearly half of the world’s population will be nearsighted.5

“I have about 20 kids in my class, 4 children wear glasses, I would guess 1 in 4 or 5 kids who do not have glasses show some signs of a vision problem.”

The Elementary Years Matter

You may remember learning biology in high school or possibly a history lesson from middle school. However, elementary school is important to set a foundation and an interest in learning. According to Pessimisis,

“In the beginning of a child’s education, we want them to love school. We hope this love for learning continues through their later years. Reading is one area where students may become frustrated if their vision is inhibiting them. It is so important that we as teachers/parents identify these struggles early on so we may step in and problem solve. If a child is struggling in a certain subject area, it is likely he/she will become frustrated by it and disengage from it as much as possible. If a child is struggling in reading, and it is only a vision problem, it is easily correctable, and the student may find success again!

Vision plays a crucial role in any classroom. Students engage with a variety of mediums like whiteboards, laptops, and smartboards. To be successful a child needs to see and be involved with materials so they can participate in learning activities.”

Vision issues can place limitations on childhood development that can directly impact a child’s quality of life.6 Performance in the classroom, out on the playing field, and socializing with peers can all be compromised by nearsightedness.

“When I taught first grade, I had a student who ended up needing glasses.” Says Ms. Pessimisis. “He was enthusiastic towards the beginning of the school year and then started to struggle as the year went on. We were trying to figure out what was inhibiting him. We tried multiple interventions to help him. At this point he didn’t have glasses. We sent him to get his vision tested and he ended up needing glasses. After that reading became less of a struggle. There were still gaps and areas he needed extra support, but overall this helped him to become more successful in school.”

If a child shows they are not successful at a certain reading level we will step in with different activities to show proof that they may need help. The first step for a child we think needs special services is they must pass their vision test. We need to rule out that it is not their vision hindering them to be successful. This child ended up needing glasses and vision therapy. This helped him to become more successful in school.”

How Can a Parent Tell if their Child is Nearsighted?

 “Sometimes parents can be unaware that their children have vision issues. In our public school vision screenings are mandatory for kindergartners and 6th graders, any student who is new to our school, and any student who is struggling with their learning. Parents may not be aware that their child has a vision problem because they are unfamiliar with the signs of nearsightedness. For example, they may not realize that a child holding a book close to their face is abnormal. They may believe their child is clumsy and not put the dots together that this could be from a vision issue. Parents don’t have the opportunity to observe a child learn like teachers do.”

There is more than just holding a book close to their face that suggests vision problems in a child:

  • -A child may easily become confused frequently because they find it hard to pick up on visual cues.
  • -Children with vision issues may fear participating in sports or play.
  • -Struggling to see body language can cause issues in dealing with social interactions.7

Give Your Child What They Need to Succeed

There is a treatment option that allows your child to go completely free from glasses or daytime contacts. Paragon CRT® overnight contact lenses are worn while your child sleeps. The lenses gently reshape the curvature of the cornea, focusing light correctly onto the retina. In the morning when your child removes the lenses, they have clear vision without the need for any visual aid.

 “Kids along with parents can worry about breaking their glasses. Children are aware how expensive they can be.” – Sara Pessimisis.

Glasses and daytime contacts are beneficial, and every treatment option has its pros and cons. With Paragon CRT® contacts treatment is completely managed in the home. The lenses are designed to be worn while a child sleeps. A parent can have peace of mind that their child won’t lose a contact or break a pair of glasses on the playground.

“At the primary age it is common for children to lose things often. I actually have had a child who keeps a pair of glasses at home and a pair in the classroom so that he wouldn’t misplace them. Paragon CRT® lenses could resolve those types of issues.” Says Pessimisis.

Lenses like Paragon CRT® have been clinically proven to improve a child’s ability to learn, increase participation in sports, and boost confidence.8 Overnight vision correction can improve a child’s quality of life!

 “Students are really active. Children who could really benefit from Paragon CRT® lenses are kids who want to participate in sports. This way they don’t have to worry about their glasses.” – Sara Pessimisis.

Paragon CRT® overnight lenses can only be prescribed by a certified eye doctor. You can find a certified practitioner by using our find a doctor locator tool. Help your child to see the chalkboard, interact with their peers, and overcome challenges on the playing field. Paragon CRT® is an investment in your child’s education, performance in sports, and overall well-being.

Sara Pessimisis

 

[1] Visual Impairments. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2019, from http://www.projectidealonline.org/v/visual-impairments/

[2] Turbert, D. (2019, February 7). Nearsightedness: What Is Myopia? Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/myopia-nearsightedness

[3] Carr, B. J., Ph.D., & Stell, W. K., M.D., Ph.D. (1995). The Science Behind Myopia. In The Organization of the Retina and Visual System. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Health Sciences Center. doi:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470669/

[4] Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL 3rd. Increased prevalence of Myopia in the U.S. between 1971-1972 and 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 Dec; 127(12): 1632-9. PubMed

[5] Holden, B. A., T. R. Fricke, D. A. Wilson, M. Jong, K. S. Naidoo, P. Sankaridurg, T. Y.
Wong, T. J. Naduvilath and S. Resnikoff (2016). "Global Prevalence of
Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050."
Ophthalmology 123(5): 1036-1042.

[6] McAlinden, Colm M.D., M.B.B.Ch., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc., Ph.D., M.R.C.Ophth.; Lipson, Michael O.D., F.A.A.O., (2018). Orthokeratology and Contact Lens Quality of Life Questionnaire. Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, Inc., 44(5), 279-285. Retrieved May 28, 2019.

[7] Bishop, V. E., & Benavides, R. C. (1996). Preschool Children with Visual Impairments . Retrieved from https://www.tsbvi.edu/curriculum-a-publications/3/1069-preschool-children-with-visual-impairments-by-virginia-bishop * Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

[8] F. Z., G. Z., & Z. Z. (2018). Investigation of the Effect of Orthokeratology Lenses on Quality of Life and Behaviors of Children. Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, Inc., 44(5). Retrieved May 8, 2019.