Why Your Child Needs a Back-to-School Eye Exam - MetroFamily Magazine
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Why Your Child Needs a Back-to-School Eye Exam

by VSP Optometrist Dr. Trevor Conklin, OD

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

As you gear up to send your child back to school and start checking items off your list – like pencils, notebooks and calculators – don’t forget one of the most important things that will help your child perform his or her best: an annual eye exam. At the end of the day, all of these learning tools are only as effective as the healthy eyes that use them.

Close to ten million children in the U.S. suffer from undetected vision problems that may cause them to struggle in school. Additionally, 60 percent of children labeled as “problem” learners actually suffer from undiagnosed vision problems. Because eye health plays a major role in academic growth, it’s common for vision problems to be mistaken for a learning disability. Undetected vision conditions can negatively impact learning and contribute to frustrated students, poor grades and behavioral issues. 

Experts estimate that 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes, so it is clear that a comprehensive eye exam is one of the most important ways parents can give their child the best chance at success this school year. However, many parents are unaware that it is recommended that children receive their first comprehensive eye exams at six months of age to one year, again at age three, then just before starting kindergarten and every year after that.

Since children’s eyes develop so rapidly, and they continue to develop until about the age of seven, early detection is essential to correcting potentially permanent vision issues.  Furthermore, a standard in-school screening only tests for visual acuity which does not provide the whole picture. Comprehensive eye exams test for visual acuity, color vision, eye alignment, eye health and other chronic diseases such as diabetes.

There are several common signs that may indicate that a child is having trouble with his or her vision. Parents should discuss these signs with their child’s optometrist to ensure their children do not have underlying vision issues:

  • Squinting eyes or closing one eye
  • Tilting or turning his or her head to see more clearly
  • Holding things very close to read
  • Any eye turn or “lazy” eye
  • Not being able to see the depth of a 3D movie    
  • Difficulty completing assignments
  • Headaches after or during reading
  • Skipping/rereading lines of print
  • Double vision, words overlapping
  • Falling asleep while reading/avoidance of near work

If a child waits too long to have an eye exam, a correctable visual problem may become permanent. For example, while a crossed eye may not seem bad, if left untreated, it can cause serious damage.  When one eye isn’t functioning properly, the brain often begins to ignore it. Once that starts to happen, it renders that eye essentially blind. However, if a child is treated early, a lazy eye can be fixed fairly simply and any permanent damage can be avoided.  

This year, make sure you’re giving your child the best chance to excel both in and out of the classroom – make sure to schedule his or her comprehensive annual eye exam today!

To learn more about the importance of healthy vision, please visit SeeMuchMore.com.

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