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Posted on 09-15-2016

It's back-to-school time!  And that means lists and preparations.  What is on your back-to-school checklist?  There's the usual:

  • Get school supplies
  • Go clothes and shoe shopping
  • Meet the teacher
  • Get back on a schedule

There's so much to do this time of year.  But one important thing that many parents forget to add to that list is an annual eye exam.  If your child doesn't currently wear glasses, you may not even think of it.  However, this is one task that needs to be added to your list for the upcoming school year.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), as much as 80% of a child's learning occurs through the eyes.  Reading, writing, blackboards, and computer use are just some of the many tasks a child performs with their eyes throughout the school day. 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers, and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. In addition, it is estimated that 1 in 4 children have an undetected vision problem.  Those are staggering statistics!  Right now you may be asking yourself, if my child doesn't exhibit any symptoms of a vision problem,  does he/she really need an eye exam?  The answer is YES!!!

The following are the most common signs that your child may have a vision problem:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Squinting
  • Constant rubbing of eyes or blinking
  • Holding objects closer than normal to read them
  • Covering one eye
  • Sitting too close to the TV

The AOA recommends that children have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age.  How could an infant have an eye exam you ask?  Well, the truth is, babies should be able to see as well as adults in terms of focusing, color vision, and depth perception by 6 months of age.  The doctor can check that these things are on track with a few tests.  First is to test pupil response.  This shows whether the pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.  Secondly, they can test to determine if your baby's eyes can fixate and follow an object, such as a light, while it moves.  An infant should be able to fixate at birth or soon after, and should be able to follow an object by 3 months of age.  The doctor will also use a test called "preferential looking" to check a baby's visual ability.  This involves using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to help attract the baby's eyes to the stripes.  This takes place of the typical eye chart that is used on older patients.

The AOA recommends the next eye exam at 3 years old, and then just before they start school, age 5-6.  Beyond that, it is recommended that a child have an eye exam every 2 years. If they currently have vision problems or wear glasses/contacts, then an exam is recommended every year, or as recommended by your doctor.  Most of the time, schools will do a yearly vision screening on your child.  However, an eye exam is still recommended even if your child passes the screening, because there are certain issues that can't be diagnosed with a vision screening alone. A child that sees 20/20 can still have vision problems.  In fact, studies show that many children diagnosed with ADHD are actually misdiagnosed, when in reality they have an underlying vision problem. The following behaviors can often indicate trouble with vision:

  • Short attention span
  • Tilting their head to one side
  • Losing place when readings
  • Having trouble remembering what they read
  • Poor hand/eye coordination
  • Frustration when reading or doing school work

Vision changes can happen with or without your child noticing.  Many children that need vision correction may not mention it, because they think they can see just fine.  So make sure your child gets an eye exam at least every 2 years, or more often as recommended by their doctor.  The earlier a vision problem is detected and treated, the more likely treatment will be successful.  As parents, you want to give your child every opportunity to succeed in school, and an eye exam is an important part of that process.  So schedule your child an eye exam today and help them be the best they can be this upcoming school year!

Sources:
www.vsp.com
www.kidshealth.org
www.aoa.org
www.allaboutvision.com

lenny strin said:

You shared very nice post about eye care for child i'll take care of it.

2017-03-27 10:07:23

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