Experts report that vision health is intricately linked to a child’s ability to learn and develop socially.

“Simply, children can’t learn if they can’t see” says Dr. Mark Ruchman, Versant Health’s chief medical officer, but young children “don’t know what they don’t know.”

While adults can sense a change in vision, younger children may simply cope due to a lack of understanding about what they are experiencing, he adds. Ruchman stresses that vision evaluations are a central component of comprehensive health care for children and can provide a wealth of wellness indicators.

Annual eye exams can help evaluate vision and identify if a child is at the appropriate neurological and social stage for their age. In turn, the information can be shared with educators and pediatricians who work together for the benefit of the child, says Ruchman.

The widespread introduction of remote learning over the past year has significantly increased screen time for many children and adults, says Lisa Hall, Versant Health’s regional vice president of third party commercial sales.

“Adults and kids spend most of their day in front of a computer, tablet or phone,” says Hall, which is significantly increasing eye strain issues.

According to Hall, one in four school-aged children have vision problems that can affect learning and development. She says this is why vision experts recommend an eye exam at birth, 6 months old, 3-4 years old, just prior to entering kindergarten, and then every year following.

“So much of society is based on visual learning,” adds Dr. Ruchman, “and children need to begin their formative years by seeing well.”

Press play to hear Dr. Ruchman and Lisa Hall further discuss the links between vision and childhood development, the nationwide “Vision to Learn” initiative and why it’s important to consider the employee’s entire family when determining vision plan coverage.