Study: 1 in 4 students has vision problem

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Monday, August 25, 2014

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- Imagine sitting in a classroom, trying your hardest to focus, but you still can't see what's on the board. That's exactly what a quarter of school age children face every day.

Second grader Spencer Whisnant is wrapping up his last vision therapy appointment.

"Where would his vision be at now?" News 12 asked mother Jessica Whisnant.
"Oh, it would be bad," she replied.

Jessica says he almost became a statistic, but teachers noticed something doctors missed.

"When he would go to read, he would have his book all the way up to his nose where he couldn't see it. Couldn't read stuff that was on the board," she said.

One in four children in Kindergarten through 6th grade have vision problems. It's a statistic that's keeping Dr. Joy Ellenberger busy as a new school year begins.

"Vision therapy is kind of a separate ball game from eye glasses," Dr. Ellenberger said.

Dr. Ellenberger says 80 percent of what a child learns comes through vision, which is why Spencer wasn't earning the grades his mom knew he could.

The brain has to work so hard to use the bad eye, that it just gives up and shuts off the information from that eye.

Not catching Spencer's developing cross eye or lazy eye in time would not only hurt him in school, but later on too.

"Mainly that he wouldn't be able to see once he got older if it progressed to get worse," his mother explained.

Dr. Ellenberger says headaches and complaints about not seeing the board are red flags. She also says to keep an eye out if your student is avoiding up close work, they don't want to read, they don't want to do homework or if It takes hours to complete homework that should take 30 minutes.

Spencer's visits are done for now, and his mom hopes he's on the way to seeing better grades.

"With the glasses, with the therapy and continuing with the therapy, it's helping with his reading so that he can understand and comprehend to be able to learn," she said.

It's help that can begin with a simple test.

Doctors suggests starting your child's eye check at 6 months, 3 years and 5 years old.

Even though it's hard for patients that young to communicate, doctors can still tell if the eyes are sharing the workload and if there's a chance for any eye diseases.

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