It’s Children’s Vision Health and Eye Safety Month!
Some parents of school-age children may be done with their back-to-school preparations. Others may still be in search for that last obscure item on their kids’ school supply lists.
While we can’t tell you how a green, D-ring binder with vertical pockets will help with your child’s academic success, we can remind you of a critical component of your child’s education and ability to learn—good eyesight.
Vision Affects Development
Poor vision can have negative impacts on a child’s development and academic performance. But many parents are unaware of the importance of an annual eye exam for their child’s overall health and education.
“Kids seem to be one of the most overlooked age groups when it comes to quality of vision and eye health, largely because they don’t have a point of reference from which to know when their vision is poor if it’s been that way all their life. And even if they do, they often don’t yet know how to describe their symptoms,” said Dr. Chris Wroten, a founding partner at the Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic.
Focus on Eye Health in August and Year Around
That’s why vision health advocates and professionals declared Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness month in August. It’s a health observance reminding parents about the correlation between healthy eyesight and healthy grades.
So read on for tips to make sure your kids have the vision to succeed in school.
Tip #1: Take your child to an eye doctor once a year.
The American Optometric Association recommends starting preventive annual eye exams between ages three to five years old.
“So much learning occurs through the visual system, especially in young children, that it’s imperative that children start to receive annual, comprehensive eye exams as early as possible,” Dr. Wroten said.
Tip #2: Don’t rely on vision screenings.
Vision screenings should not replace a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care professional. Dr. Wroten warns that these screenings have been known to miss many common vision disorders and eye health problems.
Tip #3: Listen to your child and watch for the physical signs.
A child’s complaints of headaches, double vision, or inablility to appreciate 3-D pictures or movies could be signs of vision problems. Children may also display physical signs of vision problems, such as squinting, rubbing their eyes, excessive blinking, losing their place when reading, or you might even notice one of their eyes turning in or out (the American Optometric Association provides other signs of potential vision problems in kids).
Not all children will voice symptoms or display physical signs, but parents and teachers should still actively look for these common cues. It’s also important to discuss your observations with your child’s teacher. She or he may notice some signs that you’re missing. As Dr. Wroten points out, early intervention of vision problems is effective and critical to good eye health and quality vision.
Keep these tips in mind in August and all year long: Make vision health and eye safety a priority for your child’s health and education!
Chris Wroten, O.D., is a partner at the Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic, and has a special interest in primary eye care and in the treatment and management of eye disease. Dr. Wroten has lectured internationally, participated in clinical research, and authored clinical case reports at numerous conferences in the U.S. and abroad. He is an adjunct professor at Southern College of Optometry, the University of Incarnate Word’s Rosenberg School of Optometry, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham College of Optometry.
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