August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. This is the time when children are getting eye exams, physicals, immunizations and other check ups in preperation for school. This is something that should not be skipped as it is very important for children to have these exams prior to school. Eye exams are important because if children can not see well, it will be difficult for them to read the text in their books as well as the board. It is also important for their health to examined so they can focus and do well in school without any limitations. So this is the time to make sure your children are health and safe as they prepare to begin a new year of school.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CHILD’S VISION The following information from the AOA and Prevent Blindness America detail the changes in vision that occur throughout childhood.
AGES ZERO TO FIVE
Proper vision screenings and examinations are essential for early detection and intervention of vision problems in children. Newborns should have their eyes checked before leaving the hospital. The examination in the nursery is for general eye health and includes a red reflex test. The exam can help detect several congenital eye problems, some of which may lead to blindness.
During well baby exams from birth to 2 years of age, your child’s pediatrician will use history and a vision evaluation to determine if vision problems exist. From ages 3 to 10, well child exams should include vision screenings to assess visual acuity and ocular alignment.
If there is ever a concern during a vision screening, your child should be referred for a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The American Optometric Association recommends that in addition to screenings offered by primary care physicians, comprehensive eye examinations should be scheduled for ages 6 months, 3 years and 5 years for all children, regardless of vision concerns.
Keep in mind that as your child progresses through school, the print in his or her textbook will decrease in size. Also, they may need to begin utilizing the chalkboard or a computer monitor for some assignments.
Vision can change frequently during the school years, hence the importance of the annual eye exam. More than 80 percent of early learning is visual. If your child is not performing well in school, don’t attribute it to lack of interest or laziness. In some instances, the problem could be vision related. The American Optometric Association (AOA) indicates the most common vision problem is nearsightedness or myopia. However, some children have other forms of refractive error like farsightedness and astigmatism. In addition, the existence of eye focusing, eye tracking and eye coordination problems may affect school performance.
Simply put, children have a hard time concentrating if they are unable to see well enough to follow along. And when children don’t comprehend that their inability to process information or see the chalkboard is related to their vision, they may develop poor self esteem, become frustrated with formalized education or act out. According to the AOA, many children are mislabeled as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when, in reality, they actually have an undiagnosed vision problem.
Vision is an integral part of learning and early intervention is the key to ensuring lifelong independence. An undetected visual impairment at an early can set a child back years in development in just a few short months.
Without good vision, a child’s ability to learn and comprehend the world around them suffers. Since many vision impairments begin at an early age, proper care and early detection is key to ensuring a lifetime of success and independence for children.
Ensure early detection by scheduling an annual eye exam. If you notice the following problems with your child between appointments, see your regular eye doctor right away.
-Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
-Covering one eye
-Short attention span
-Avoiding reading assignments or holding reading materials close to the face
-An eye turning in or out
-Losing his or her place when reading
-Difficulty with reading retention