Anne Silea, Director of Community Engagement, Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments

Did you know that 80 to 90% of what you learn …. you learn by looking?

While most people know that children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life, not everyone knows how critical vision is to learning.

Taste, touch, smell, and hearing are all important, but they come and go. It is our vision that is constant and helps us pull all the information together to make sense of the world around us.

Babies and toddlers rely on their vision to help them learn everything from colors and shapes to their parents’ expressions (and what different expressions mean). They also learn by observing what you do and how you do it. For example, using a spoon to eat or pretending to talk on a toy phone.

According to the National Center for Children’s Vision & Eye Health;

More than one in 20 preschool-age children and one in four schoolage children have a vision disorder. Uncorrected vision problems can impair child development, interfere with learning, and even lead to permanent vision loss; early detection and treatment are critical. Visual functioning is a strong predictor of academic performance in school-age children, and vision disorders of childhood may continue to affect health and well-being throughout the adult years.

Unfortunately, vision problems in very young children often go unnoticed because they may think what they see is “normal” or they may not be able to talk yet and can’t tell you. One woman shared a story with me about her sister who was four years old when she saw a brown paper bag blowing across the street and said “Look, Mommy … a puppy!!!”  Needless to say, she got glasses, and everyone was amazed at the change it made.

What you can do

Because children learn so much through their vision, it is important to identify and address any vision concerns as early as possible.  The American Academy of Ophthalmologists and American Optometric Association both recommend getting your child’s eyes checked between 6 months and 1 year and again between 3 and 5 years of age.  (If your child is between 6 months and 1 year, visit InfantSee to schedule a free eye exam).

As we recognize National Eye Exam Month and Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month, we encourage you to review (and share) the Indicators of Vision Concerns. It is important to remember how critical our children’s vision is to their overall success and well-being, both academically and socially.

If you are in the St. Louis area and interested in scheduling a FREE vision screening, please contact us at 314-776-1300 or info@dgckids.org. We provide vision screenings at childcare centers and/or through early childhood groups. Click here for a flyer with more information. Screenings for individual children are also offered by appointment at our office.

The majority of vision concerns in young children can be corrected. However, if they cannot, the Delta Gamma Center can provide and/or connect you with vision services and resources.

About the Delta Gamma Center

The mission of the Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments (DGC) is to help children who are blind or visually impaired reach their full potential through family-centered, specialized services and community support. DGC is a private nonprofit organization located in St. Louis, Missouri, serving families within a 50-mile radius including Missouri and Illinois.

Founded in 1951, DGC provides comprehensive home and community-based early intervention services for children, birth to three years of age, and their families. Our teachers and therapists address the complex needs of our clients through a team-based, holistic approach.

Children ages three through high school participate in our group recreation and developmental support program, designed to develop social and independence skills and increase participation in community activities.

Families of children of all ages find reassurance and valuable resources through individual and group family support services.

DGC also provides vision screening services throughout the service area to infants and preschoolers for early detection of vision issues as well as community engagement initiatives directed at increasing acceptance, inclusion and accessibility.

To learn more about the Delta Gamma Center and our services, visit us at www.dgckids.org or contact us at 314-776-1300 or info@dgckids.org.

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