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Back To School Eye Health For Children

Posted // Wednesday, August 21, 2013
By: Dr. Dan Hennessey

Back to school time is a great opportunity for parents to consider how good vision can help a child’s physical development, success in school and overall well-being. With young children, early eye exams are the key to catching problems before they develop into serious vision impairment. I recently sat down with THV’s Alyse Eady to talk about the importance of early childhood eye care.

 

 

With school starting, vision issues can become problematic and could affect grades and social interaction. Your child isn’t likely to complain about being nearsighted, but they may talk about having difficulty seeking the blackboard, or you could possibly observe them squinting when they read. Here are some other signs to look for that indicate vision problems:

  • Close or cover an eye
  • Complain of blur
  • Mucus, tearing or crusting
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty reading
  • Eye rubbing
  • Frequent blinking
  • Crossed eyes
  • Red eyes

 

Parents should be aware that roughly 1 in 4 school-age children have some level of vision impairment. The most common vision issues for children are:

  • Strabismus – The eyes are not aligned properly and point different directions.
  • Anisometropia – A different degree of vision in each eye; for example having just one eye that is nearsighted.
  • Astigmatism – Vision is distorted and objects are difficult to see clearly close or far away.
  • Amblyopia – This is also known as “lazy eye.”

These issues can be easily addressed with corrective lenses, medicine or, in a few cases, surgery; but if not given the proper treatment some of these conditions could worsen and lead to permanent vision loss.

If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing any of these issues, or showing symptoms of troubled vision, you should see your eye doctor for early diagnosis and treatment.

Of course, it’s best to have your child’s vision checked before a problem arises.

Unfortunately, 80% of preschoolers do not get eye exams. Here are the milestones for eye exams in children:

  • Newborn:  First exam
  • Infant:  Between 6 months and 1 year old
  • Toddler:  Between the ages of 3 and 3 ½
  • School Age:  If no problems at age 5, test every 3-5 years

Early examination is the best way to find an issue before it becomes serious.