Katie Johnson and Helen Spencer Speak to Nurses at the School Nurse Organization of Washington March 21, to Explain the Need for Binocular Vision Screening for Children

Two hundred school nurses attended the Spring Conference of the School Nurse Organization of Washington (S.N.O.W.) held at the Marcus Whitman Convention Centre in Walla Walla, WA, March 21-22, 2014. One of the most impressive exhibits was a large display highlighting vision care for the 25% of children who cannot see to read.

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Children's eyes need to be checked for near vision.

"It certainly makes sense that there should be two different tests, one for far and one for near," commented one nurse. "I am surprised that I never thought of it myself."

Walla Walla, Washington (PRWEB) March 29, 2014

"There are only two states in the whole country who screen their school-age children for binocular vision," explained Katie Johnson, long-time elementary teacher and author of Red Flags for Primary Teachers: 27 Neurodevelopmental and Vision Issues that Affect Learning with Activities to Help. "Binocular visions means that the two eyes work together to make sense of print. This is the skill that is essential for reading."

Many studies have been done over the past fifteen years which highlight the differences between how children use their near vision and their far vision during their school years.

"It is not enough to know that children in the early grades can see an eye chart twenty feet away when they will be reading at 10 inches away," continued Helen Spencer, advisor to the Americorps Children's VIsion Project in Yakima, Washington. "There are twenty-five percent of early elementary-age children whose near vision is inadequate for reading."

Some children cannot use their eyes together to focus on print, which is called "teaming," or "convergence." If they can't, they have "convergence insufficiency," which means that words may blur, or move, or fade, or require huge amounts of work to see clearly. "Eyes get tired quickly , children get discouraged quickly," adds. Johnson.

In addition to providing the nurses with many handouts relating to the issue, Katie Johnson laid out some games and activities from her book. Participants played pick-up sticks with straightened paper clips, made letters with play dough, or completed half a drawing. When children play with these materials, they are practicing figure-ground discrimination, eye-hand coordination and sound-symbol correspondence, and demonstrate that they are actually using both eyes to see (i.e., binocular vision).

"It certainly makes sense that there should be two different tests, one for far and one for near," commented one nurse. "I am surprised that I never thought of it myself."


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