Vision and Hearing

The Critical Years

    Young children don't really know how they are supposed to see or hear.  Consequently, they may not complain about faulty vision or hearing.  Unable to rely on signals from the child, parents must depend on regular examinations to be certain that no problem exists or is developing.

    These regular exams are particularly important during the formative years when a child is learning at a rapid pace.  Even before entering school, it is critical that the child have the best possible vision and hearing.

    Early childhood screening can prevent thousands of children from unnecessarily losing their sight or hearing.  This in turn can help to eliminate the needless social, emotional and educational problems that are common in children with vision or hearing problems.

    Screening, conducted by trained vision and hearing technicians, should be a regular part of a young child's care.  It is important to remember, however, that it should not be considered a substitute for regular examinations by a physician.


 Vision... Some Common Problems

    Limited vision in both eyes:  A child's eyes experience their greatest development-and vulnerability-during the first 6 years of life.  This coincides with the period when children are rapidly learning about the world around them.  Because much of this knowledge comes through the eyes, a child with limited vision is at a disadvantage.  Many of these children are  never able to compensate for the loss of these early learning experiences.

    Crossed eyes:  Many people still mistakenly believe that children will outgrow crossed eyes.  They do not realize it is a serious problem that must be treated at an early age.  Significant visual impairment, even blindness, can result if the condition is not detected and treated early.

    "Lazy eye blindness": This condition results when a child relies largely on only one eye during the early years of life.  Vision in the "lazy" eye fails to develop normally.  After age 6, the condition is very difficult to correct and any treatment is likely to be long, costly and frequently unproductive.

Hearing

    Hearing screenings can detect hearing loss sufficient to warrant treatment in about 5 percent of school children.  About half of these children have hearing defects sever enough to require special medical care and educational help.

    The discovery of hearing loss is particularly important among infants and preschool children.  Learning to cope with a hearing impairment is difficult for any child, but the earlier training begins, the more effective it will be.

    Early detection and prompt treatment can prevent nearly 80% of all permanent hearing damage.  This, in turn, can have a positive effect on the problems many of these children encounter in school.

For more information about our Vision and Hearing Program, please call 217.245.5111