Since August has arrived and a new school year is about to begin, an eye examination should be part of your back to school check list. As part of Child Eye Health and Safety Month, in addition to immunizations and school orientations, it is highly recommended your child receive an eye examination before going back to school. The inability to see clearly affects not only academic performance but also althletics and self-esteem. Start the new school year out right by making sure that your student is seeing clearly!
Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child’s vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6. For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required.
Common signs of vision troubles in children include: frequently rubbing eyes, squinting, tilting or turning head to look at objects, wandering eyes, or squeezing eyes. If you’re child displays any of these symptoms, please schedule an appointment to have their eyes checked. Amblyopia (lazy eye), Strabismus (crossed eyes), color deficiency (color blindness), and refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) are the most common conditions that can affect a child’s vision. Many of these conditions, if diagnosed early, can be treated and vision can be restored. If the condition is not diagnosed until later in life, treatment will not be as effective.
If your child needs glasses, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Younger children should have plastic frames for safety. All children should wear lenses made of impact-resistant plastic. To ensure safety, many states regulate what materials may be used in children’s glasses. An optician with experience in fitting children’s glasses can help your child choose frames and lenses that are stylish and safe. If possible, let your child choose her own frames.
Aside from keeping a watchful eye for some of the warning signs, protect your child from eye injuries by ensuring your children’s toys are age-appropriate and not a danger to their eyes. Check if your child’s toys or stuff are free of sharp or protruding parts that could accidently poke the eyes. Fireworks are also detrimental to your child’s safety, as it can cause blindness if not handled correctly.
It’s your responsibility as a parent to know how you can keep your child’s vision healthy and obtain early diagnosis in case your child is suffering from vision problems through a regular eye exam. Also, be aware that eye injuries can happen anytime, anywhere. Eye injuries are often caused by sports or physical activities, so know proper precautions such as wearing protective eyewear when playing sports.