Advanced Eyecare Professionals Shares Back-to-School Tips for Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month
With back-to-school time around the corner, parents will be scrambling to buy new school supplies and clothes. As they tick off their long list of school to-dos, ophthalmologists are reminding parents not to neglect one of the most important learning tools: their children’s eyes.
Good vision and overall eye health are vital to learning. Advanced Eyecare Professionals (AEP) joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in emphasizing the importance of healthy vision to academic success during Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month in August.
“It is common for kids to not realize that they are not seeing as well as those around them. Near-sightedness can develop gradually and it is not until children get glasses that they realize all the details around them that they have been missing! My daughter recently received her first pair of glasses and couldn’t believe how much better she could see at a distance. It is important for kids to have a routine vision screening and a thorough eye exam before they start school,” advises ophthalmologist David Harrell, a member of the AEP Eyecare team.
Because children are still growing, being vigilant about eye health is important. The earlier problems are identified; the sooner they can be addressed. For healthy eyes and vision throughout the school year, Advanced Eyecare Professionals and The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend the following four tips:
- Get regular childhood vision screenings and periodic complete eye exams – Children’s eyes change rapidly, making regular vision screenings an important step in detecting and correcting eye problems early. Vision screening and/or a full eye exam for children is recommended when they are:
- Infant age 6 months to 1 year
- Pre-school age, between age 3 and 3 and a half
- Entering school
- Experiencing a possible vision problem
For school-age children, a vision screening, which is less comprehensive than a dilated eye examination by an ophthalmologist, can be performed by a pediatrician, family physician, nurse or trained technician during regular checkups. If the screening detects a problem, the child may need to see an ophthalmologist -- an eye physician and surgeon – or other eye care professional like an optometrist. Screenings are a very basic eye assessment. It is important for children to also have a dilated eye exam periodically to check the overall health and development of the eye. A complete eye exam is important because there are many eye conditions and diseases that don’t present with noticeable symptoms before irreversible vision loss occurs.
- Know and share family eye health history – Everyone should find out whether eye conditions or diseases run in their family. Parents should share that information with the person performing the screening and their eye doctor when possible. Examples of common eye conditions include nearsightedness, crossed eye, known as strabismus, and lazy eye, known as amblyopia. If these are not treated in childhood, they can cause permanent vision loss in one eye.
- Watch for signals of eye problems – Parents should be alert to symptoms that could indicate an eye or vision problem, such as complaints of eyestrain, headaches, squinting when reading or performing other common activities, short attention span for visual tasks, difficulty identifying or reproducing shapes, and poor hand-eye coordination. Other symptoms to look for include a white or grayish-white coloring in the pupil, one eye that turns in or out, or eyes that do not track in sync together.
- Wear protective eyewear when playing sports – Eye injuries while playing sports can cause serious damage, whether by getting smacked with an elbow during basketball or hit with a hockey stick. If a child plays racket sports, hockey, field hockey, baseball or basketball, consider having them wear goggles or other certified protective eyewear.
“Through my years of eye care service I have caught many undiagnosed eye conditions in children that were impeding, or would have impeded learning,” said Michael Flohr, M.D., founder and lead ophthalmologist of Advanced Eyecare Professionals. “Four of my nine grandchildren have benefited from vision correcting glasses at very early ages before learning was hindered from lack of visual acuity. Three of those four were never caught by well care baby/child screenings. Sadly many parents don’t realize the great importance of a dilated eye exam to ensure their children’s eyes are healthy and performing at optimal levels.”
Call our office to make an appointment to ensure your child is seeing the best they can see!