Frequently Asked Questions

What is Eyes On Learning?

Eyes On Learning is dedicated to making sure that children with vision problems are identified early and receive an eye exam and follow-up treatment to achieve better vision health.

The Eyes On Learning Vision Coalition is a dedicated group of state, local, and national organizations that share a commitment to vision health and learning success for all Arizona children. Leadership for coalition activities is provided by the Advisory Board.

Why is vision important for children?

80% of children’s learning is through their eyes.

Healthy vision is critical for every child’s social development, school success, and well-being. A child’s vision provides an important source of information about the world around them. Thus, an uncorrected vision problem can interfere with his/her ability to learn and reach his/her highest potential.

How do I know if my child has a vision problem?

Watch for signs that your child has a vision problem:

These include itchy eyes, squinting, excessive blinking or tearing, headaches, tiring when reading, or sitting close to the TV or computer screen. Remember: children typically don’t complain about vision problems.

Talk to your child’s doctor, school nurse, or teacher if you have concerns about his/her vision.

Request a vision screening for your child. You can do this at your well-child visit or take your child to an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) for an eye exam.

What are the most common vision problems for children?

The most common problems for children’s vision are refractive errors, amblyopia, strabismus, or vision loss.

Refractive errors, which include myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, impact children more than other vision problems.

  • Astigmatism affects up to 28 percent of children over 5 years of age and occurs because of an irregularity in the shape of the lens of the eye and causes blurry vision at all distances. Children with myopia or hyperopia are more likely to have astigmatism.
  • Hyperopia affects 21 percent of children under 5 years of age. Hyperopia causes near objects to appear blurry and distant objects appear normal.
  • Myopia affects 5 percent of children over 5 years of age. Myopia causes distant objects to appear blurry and objects up close appear normal.
  • Amblyopia is the most common cause of vision loss in children and impacts 2 percent of children under 5 years of age. Amblyopia, also called “lazy eye”, is due to the connections between the eye and brain not working well, resulting in decreased vision in an eye that otherwise appears normal.
  • Strabismus (sometimes called “cross eyes”) is any misalignment of the eyes and can be a cause of amblyopia. Up to 4 percent of young children are affected by strabismus.
  • Vision loss is the absence of vision, or a loss of vision that can’t be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Almost 3 percent of children have vision loss.

What is a vision screening?

Vision screenings are a method to identify children who may be at high risk for an eye problem and need a complete eye exam. Screenings help detect a possible eye problem early when treatment is likely more effective.

What is an eye exam?

An eye exam includes several different tests of your child’s vision and in-depth look at his/her overall eye health. The eye exam allows the eye doctor to figure out if there is a vision problem and whether your child needs follow-up care, such as getting glasses.

What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and optometrist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medication and corrective lenses as well as perform eye surgery.

An optometrist is a doctor of optometry (OD) who examines eyes for both vision and health problems and prescribes corrective lenses.

Where can my child get a vision screening or eye exam?

Vision screenings are often provided at:

  • Pediatrician’s offices and other health care settings during well-child visits or during other appointments
  • Educational settings such as Head Start, preschool programs, and elementary schools
  • Community settings such as libraries and health fairs

Eye exams are provided at:

  • A professional eye doctor’s office — by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Both have been trained to examine your child’s eyes and determine if there is a vision problem affecting his/her growth and ability to learn. It is best to have an eye doctor specifically trained to work with children, but many eye doctors will accept patients of all ages.

My child does not have health insurance. Where can he/she get vision services?

Programs that may be able to assist children without health insurance or in need of financial help include:

  • Arizona Lions Vision Center (nonprofit in Phoenix and Tucson that provides free or low-cost vision screening and glasses for those in need and age 6 and older):
  • Toll-free: 877-275-5778
  • http://lionsvisionhearing.org/?page_id=628
  • EyeCare4Kids™ provides professional eye care to low-income, visually-impaired children and underserved families:
  • https://eyecare4kids.org/
  • Infant See (national program for children between 6-12 months):
  • http://www.infantsee.org
  • Sight for Students (national program from Vision Services Plan that distributes vouchers for eye exams and glasses through local schools and other partners):
  • http://sightforstudents.org

At what age should my child get a vision screening?

  • At 6 months old during his/her well-child visit
  • At least once between 3-5 years old by his/her primary healthcare provider or a trained screener
  • Annually in kindergarten through fourth grade and every other year after that

How does my child’s vision affect his/her ability to learn?

80% of children’s learning is through his/her eyes.

Uncorrected vision problems are linked with lower early literacy performance and pre-reading skills in preschool and kindergarten. Healthy vision is also an important precondition for children learning to read by the end of third grade. Over 50% of Arizona third grade students are not reading proficient.

How do I get involved with Eyes On Learning?

Join the Eyes On Learning coalition of partners. Click here to visit out Contact page and sign up to receive information.

What is the difference between vision screening and an eye exam?