September is coming. From kindergarten to elementary to junior high to high school, children are heading back to school. You have bought them clothes, pens and paper, backpacks and supplies, but have you thought of an eye exam for your child? As much as 80% of a child’s learning is visual, so scheduling an eye exam today is not only a smart decision but a necessary precautionary measure to minimise eye problems and see that your child reaches his or her full potential in the classroom. As a follow up to Dr. Stephanie’s article, we thought we’d go further in depth as to why a back to school eye exam is so important for your child.
WHY ARE REGULAR EYE EXAMS IMPORTANT?
Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. In today’s classroom, a child’s eyes are bombarded with all kinds of visual stimuli: text and workbooks, blackboards and whiteboards, overhead projectors, computers, cell phones, and participation in school activities and sports. School children are at the stage where their eyes are evolving fast, so a preventative focus on maintaining excellent eye health and vision is a must.
Talk to your child. Especially the younger ones, who, when experiencing a vision problem at school, may not identify it as such and just assume that’s how all the others kids see. Common conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) can go undiagnosed. Some telltale signs of an undiagnosed vision condition are a short attention span, frustration and impatience, rubbing of eyes, and the avoidance of schoolwork. Another condition, amblyopia (lazy eye), needs to be treated by the age of seven at the latest in order to avoid the deterioration of health and vision in the affected eye. Changing eyesight is not a reason for worry, and vision tends to stabilise in the later teenage years and early twenties.
WHAT ARE EYE EXAMS?
Parent beware, because there are unfortunate cases where an undiagnosed eye problem may inadvertently be referred to as a learning disability or behavioural problem. This unnecessary complication can be avoided through proactive eye exams to ensure that potential problems are identified and addressed before they hamper your child’s performance in the classroom. Leaving the detection of eye problems to school screenings alone isn’t the best idea. Many of these tests are based on the evaluation of clarity and distance, and a child with vision problem could still pass them. Your eye doctor will conduct a comprehensive examination, which will feature tests for near and distance vision, eye coordination, eye movement skills, focusing, peripheral awareness, and eye-hand coordination.
When there is vision correction, glasses or contact lenses are the most viable options. Contacts are particularly useful for children engaged in sports and activities where wearing glasses could be a hindrance. The age at which a child can use contacts depends on their maturity and ability to properly handle and care for their contact lenses.
WHEN SHOULD I BOOK?
August is the ideal time to book an appointment with your eye doctor and establish, re-establish or continue a regular schedule of exams. Here’s another benefit: It may not cost you anything to have the peace of mind knowing your child has optimal eye health. For children aged 0 to 18 years of age, an annual eye examination is covered by MSP. For college students over 18, some student medical plans have coverage for eye exams. Also, some college students are still covered under their parents medical, who may have coverage. Please check your individual student plan.
Ensuring your child maintains optimal eye health and vision leads them to have enhanced self-esteem and potential higher performance at school. Call iSight Optometry today to book an appointment.