Children's
Eyecare

& Schoolvision

Your child's eyes are special

Good vision is essential to learning. Poor eyesight can significantly impact on a child’s ability to learn and also on their behaviour. Although children are screened at school at the age of 4 or 5, problems can still develop between the school screening and the critical age of 8 where there is no follow up in the school system.

Early detection of issues is key

Often Children may not be aware that there is an issue with their vision or may not be able to explain their vision difficulties. 

Results can last a lifetime

If your child has a vision problem the key to preventing long term issues is early detection. An experienced Optometrist is best placed to inform you of your child’s vision development and eye health. If vision problems are identified and treated, it can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.

Children's Eye Exams

Children’s eye exams are different to adults and may require more than 1 visit. We may also need to use special drops to help determine if there is an issue.We welcome children of all ages. Children up to the age of 12 maybe entitled to have their eyes tested under the HSE clinics and we welcome prescriptions form local health centres. As the wait time in the HSE can be quite long we also welcome children to be examined at the practice.

Signs that your child may have a problem with their vision

  1. Complaining of not being able to see the board/Tv
  2. The eye turning in or out
  3. Holding things close to their face
  4. Headaches
  5. Eye rubbing/blinking
  6. Difficulty in maintaining focus while reading

School vision

Richard specialises in School vision. School vision is a branch of Optometry which studies the relationship between visual performance and reading. This branch of Optometry is particularly helpful for young patients with Visual stress including Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, DCD and ADHD. The theory behind School vision is outlined below:

Visual Skills

The predominant visual skill in reading is aiming. Since the reading distance is generally fixed, aiming is carried out by the ‘Dominant Eye’. Without stable dominance attention will continually swap from one eye to the other. At the moment of swapping, letters will seem to shift position, causing you to lose your place in a sentence. School vision seeks to stabilise the dominant eye through the use of spectacles. 

When your child reads, their eyes are busy aiming at the words. The aiming should be handled by one dominant eye. If neither eye is obviously dominant then both will try to share the task and your child’s attention will swap from one eye to the other. When this happens the letters on a page appear to move, in this case you may see your child following the sentence with their finger.

Richard has had great success with spectacles in these cases. For a school vision appointment please call our Knocknacarra branch.

Corrective Spectacles

School Vision is the study of the relationship between visual performance and the occupation of reading. The predominant visual skill in reading is aiming since the reading distance is generally fixed, the same as sport, aiming is carried out the best by the dominant eye. Without stable eye dominance attention will continually swap from one eye to the other. At the moment of a swapping letter or word will shift position in space. You can demonstrate this by aiming at a distant object with your finger. When you close one eye everything remains stable when you close the other eye either your finger or the object will appear to move. When this happens unintentionally while reading you loose your place in the sentence or paragraph and individual words become difficult to learn to spell because the letters wont stay in the right order. Put simply Schoolvision seeks to stabilise the dominant eye with corrective spectacles. The effect is usually measured by an instant increase in the rate of character recognition (the speed at which a random selection of 60 letters can be read at high and low contrast).

Reading Skills

The comparative rate of reading speed test (CRST) also measures the relative effect of serif and non-serif characters on different types of visual deficiency.

It appears by applying established eye testing techniques specifically at the reading distance we can cause a positive effect on the rate of character recognition; people, most importantly children, read faster and more accurately.

The principles of schoolvision are simple but the effect is profound. In research we found that 60% of the children in a deprived area of Wolverhampton had the predisposing signs of dyslexia.

It is quite likely that dyslexia is part of the normal human condition and the reason it has become such a concern to society is the increasing demand of technology and the dependence on reading skills. All this has happened in very recent times and as a hunter-gatherer species we may simply not have evolved to cope with all this activity 30 centimetres from our nose.

Eye Dominance

The breakthrough in the understanding of eye dominance and dominance type (Type 1 right eye dominant, right hand and foot also dominant. Type 2 anyone with a tendency to left dominance in eye hand or foot) came from research in two sports, tennis and clay pigeon shooting; this lead to the proposition of the two primary occupational visual skills of aiming and anticipation. The way in which visual correction or lack of it affects athletes depends on whether they are Type 1 or 2. A three-year study at Moreton School in Wolverhampton followed where these principles were applied to reading in about 200 year 7 children.

When your child reads, their eyes are busy aiming at the words. This aiming job should be handled by one dominant eye. If neither eye is obviously dominant then both will try to share the task and your child’s attention will swap from one eye to the other.

Read Faster & More Accurately

When this happens the letters on a page appear to shift, (aim at something with your finger, shut and open each eye in turn-you’ll see the effect). Your child might find that they loose their place and words become difficult to spell as letters wont stay in the right order.

By using established sight tests Schoolvision seeks to stabilise your child’s dominant eye with corrective spectacles. The effect is that your child should be able to read faster and more accurately.

Testimonial 1

Dear Richard,  I am writing to you to thank you for your expertise on dealing with my daughter's vision. We are on a journey that started when she was in Senior infants aged 6 years. She is now 8 years old. I suspected my daughter Mary was dyslexic when she was reading her school books from memory in senior infants. At the same time, she had her vision tested at school, she was recalled twice for further rechecks and all was fine. Literacy became increasing difficult for Mary and her stress levels spiralled. We eventually received a formal diagnosis of severe dyslexia and dyspraxia.We went on to change schools and in our search for support we came across Richard Hughes Opticians in Knocknacarra.I could not believe it when Richard discovered that she was firstly longsighted and with Richard's expertise on the effects of dyslexia/dyspraxia on vision that he was going to put her on a corrective programme for her eye alignment using prisms in the lenses. I would never have thought to recheck her vision so soon after the previous check and had no awareness of such a programme.We are a year into this Vision programme and the difference in Mary’s reading speed , ability to see , focus and follow the words is nothing short of amazing and the programme is not even finished.  This also obviously positively impacts co-ordination issues related to her dyspraxia.I have first-hand seen how soul destroying the effects of severe dyslexia can have on a child and how quickly it damages their self-esteem which feeds into all aspects of their life. To think that this diagnosis can be compounded by not having expertise vision checks very specific to this kind of diagnosis. I dread to think where she would be if we had not had this vision check.Thanks, Richard, for all your expertise . Kind Regards,Bridget

Testimonial 2

Richard, a chara,  Thank you for your follow up phone call today and for my daughter’s appointment last Friday. Please find below a short summary of our experience with dealing with my daughter's visual difficulties over the last number of years. "From the age of four, it became apparent to me that my daughter had difficulties identifying colour, completing sequences and following patterns. As a mother of four children and with over 20 years experience as a Primary school Principal, I realised that she struggled with learning and reading in comparison to her siblings and her peers. My daughter has a very engaging personality, she loves horse-riding, baking, dancing, swimming and drama. However, it became obvious that she was losing ground in class due to some sort of visual impairment. My daughter was always regarded as a very dedicated and diligent student but she often spoke of headaches, eyestrain and fatigue. Her reading and her Math became increasingly difficult for her as she graduated from one class to another and it was safe to say that she was losing confidence in herself and in her academic ability. My daughter was assessed by an Ophthalmologist in the local hospital and she also was assessed by the Irlen Association but she continued to experience difficulties with reading fluency, sequencing, patterns, reading the time and much more. In order to rule out a specific learning difficulty, we decided to have her assessed by an Educational psychologist who ruled out dyslexia but referred her immediately to Richard Hughes whom she felt could identify My daughter's visual impairment. My daughter was seen by Richard within a week and was promptly diagnosed as having "uncorrected hyperopia with muscle imbalance in the right dominant eye".Richard explained to us that this was the main reason for her problems. It is quite simply a focusing problem and a convergence problem, hence her regarding speed was slow for her age, but we were amazed that even at this initial test her reading speed had increased by 30% when the test was over wearing spectacles. My daughter’s new glasses have made an incredible difference in her life, in her ability to learn and in giving her a "fair playing field" in which to learn and succeed in class. In My daughter's own words, she can now watch the interactive White Board in class, without squinting, she no longer skips punctuation and the words and numbers in her books no longer jump. Her confidence has grown and she is definitely engaging more inside and outside school. She reads novels aloud everyday now as if to show the world her newly acquired skill. Obviously, we as her parents, are delighted with her progress and the world of possibilities at her young feet. As a Principal teacher of a large school, my thoughts turn to other children who are academically challenged in class, who zone out as a result and how their lives could be changed, like my daughter's, with the correct diagnosis. We hope Richard Hughes continues to change the lives of so many more children who visit his practice. Guimíd gach Rath Dé agus ár mbuíochas ó chroí leis as ucht a chabhair le m’iníon.  Le meas, Mary

Testimonial 3

Hi Richard, Just wanted to let you know of the following improvements we have seen in the couple of weeks since Seán has worn his glasses.Improved mood, much happier and far more content in himself. More energetic. Big increase in appetite. Can see things he didn't notice before as he explained as we were driving ‘wow look at all of the houses behind other houses’. Improved table manners, very messy eater usually, but there has been a big difference in the way he sits and uses his fork. Big increase in confidence socially and much more aware of his surroundings. Does not want to take them off, even reluctant at bedtime! King regards, Julie

Testimonial 4

Dear Richard, My daughter Siobhán was up with you some weeks ago and I was telling you how pleased I was with her glasses. I can’t get over the transformation in my child since she got her glasses. Last year she came out of school pale faced and very often with a pain in her tummy. Since she has her glasses she comes home with rosy cheeks and hasn’t had a sore tummy all year. Much thanks, Cáit.