By Allison Pierce, O.D.
August is here and with it brings the beginning of another school year and naturally Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month! Children are susceptible to a host of vision and eye problems such as injury, infection and increased nearsightedness. It is our responsibility to provide services and information to the public that can help protect and preserve a child’s eye health for life.
With one in four children having an undiagnosed vision problem, the goal of the national observance is to educate about the importance of a child’s vision and eye health. As we know, difficulties in school can stem from a learning-related vision problem. Experts estimate 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually, so visual problems are often seen as laziness, a learning disability, or even ADHD. Many parents incorrectly assume when their child passes a school vision screening, there is no vision problem. They are not aware that a child who can see 20/20 can still have difficulty with their vision. While the most common vision problem is myopia, we know there are many more potential problems such as binocular and accommodative functioning issues. We need to remember to educate our parents that every child needs a comprehensive eye exam to give them their best chance in school and protect their lifelong eye health.
Vision can change quickly, so remind parents to keep an eye out for the following between appointments:
- Closing or covering one eye
- Headaches/eye strain
- Short attention span
- Excessive blinking or eye rubbing
- Losing his/her place while reading or using a finger as a place mark while reading
- Holding reading materials close to the face
- Tilting head to one side
Between getting school supplies and new clothes, remind parents to get their child a complete eye exam and start off the new school year right. Don’t forget that sunglasses and sports protection are also integral to a child’s eye health. By providing protection against ultraviolet rays and sports-related hazards, you can help children protect their eyes and enjoy healthy vision for life.