Stress at school comes in a variety of forms. As a Behavioural Optometrist, I want to examine specifically what visual stress at school can do to your child, and how you can reduce this and thereby increase their school results, vision and love of life.
Visual Stress at School Affects Kids
Stress at school is a huge aspect of many students lives, whether they are in the first grade or the 12th grade. The way a child handles the various sources of stress in the classroom can have a huge bearing on their performance and their overall lifestyle.
And that is where visual stress at school becomes increasingly important. With vision being the dominant sense in the classroom, with up to 80% of all information coming in through the eye gate, stress on a visual system permeates every aspect of school life. So what is this stress, what effect can have on your child, and most importantly, how can you reduce it?
Visual Stress and Learning
As a child learns, increased visual stress can have a major impact on their performance. If they have difficulty sustaining their focus or eye teaming on their books or computer screen for a long period of time, they experience visual stress.
This means they face a choice…
- They can do the work and try their hardest, resulting in visual stress symptoms such as sore eyes, tired eyes, headaches or irritability.
- They can try to do the work but lose concentration rapidly, resulting in reduced performance, reduced marks and loads of daydreaming
- they can continue to work hard, but discover a way to adapt to the visual stress they are placed under. This adaptation is often in the form of compromising their distance vision.
Visual Stress and Eye Strain
Visual stress can lead to eyestrain in various forms, such as headaches, tired eyes, sore eyes or even behaviour changes such as irritability or frustration. Given that none of these symptoms are actually desirable, children facing sustained visual stress at school can often resort to the next two changes…
Visual Stress and Poor Concentration
by far the most common symptom that I see as a behavioural optometrist among students of any age suffering from visual stress is reduced concentration spans. This means that holding their focus on close objects like computer screens or books is so difficult, they decide to avoid the task. Most children with learning problems suffer from this type of visual stress in some form, and the great news is that it is easily dealt with.
Visual Stress and Short Sightedness
Increasingly one of the most common adaptations to visual stress in school is to go shortsighted. When children go shortsighted, they compromise their distance vision and lock the focus on close objects in an effort to minimise the visual stress involved in that task.
When a well-meaning optometrist comes along and prescribes distance classes, because the distance is blurry, what happens is that they start the child on a downhill cycle, with the distance prescription often increasing every single year.
Across the world, shortsightedness is being called the myopia epidemic, because it is set to increase nearly 200% in a 10 year period.
How to Deal with Visual Stress at School (Or Homework)
The great news is that we can deal with visual stress among school students quickly and effectively. Using special lenses such as bifocal or support reading lenses, we have been able to improve kids concentration, decreased pain symptoms such as sore eyes and headaches and most importantly, massively decrease the slide into shortsightedness that many children are experiencing.
This means that with the right type of reading lens, kids can continue to use technology such as iPads and phones as well is reading and doing homework whilst minimising the risk that they will become dependent on full-time classes for distance wear.
In addition, the right type of eye exercises can also be very effective in reducing the amount of visual stress of child experiences in the classroom. In my practice, I have been using vision therapy to successfully treat learning problems, eyestrain and even to reduce the growth and sometimes even reverse shortsightedness.
So rather than let your child suffer visual stress at school, see a behavioural optometrist and get a fresh perspective on how you can increase their performance, decrease their pain and irritability and protect the rise long into the future, the matter how hard they study and how much technology they indulge in! Visual stress at school can be reduced and its effects minimised if you work with a behavioural optometrist is dedicated to helping children.