August is when we start our back to school preparation. It’s time for filling out forms, buying school clothes, and school supplies. August is also Vision and Learning month, which is a good reminder that we need to take care of our children’s eye health as they enter the school year. Your child’s vision constantly changes as they age, so it is important to schedule regular eye exams and maintain proper vision care to ensure success in the classroom. The first eye assessment should have been around six months of age. Comprehensive eye exams should start at age 3.
Eye exams start at an early age to help catch eye diseases like lazy eye (amblyopia) and crossed eyes (strabismus). The longer you wait to correct them, the higher the likelihood of permanent damage. Through vision therapy, both of these conditions are correctable.
Here are some back to school vision care tips for you and your child:
Make regularly scheduled vision screenings before school starts – Plan for yearly eye exams before the start of each school year to help catch vision issues early. Schedule immediate exams if your child is experiencing symptoms of a vision problem.
Reading and learning problems are often symptoms of an undiagnosed vision problem. Take a quick quiz to find out if your child needs further help.
Know your family history of eye health – Parents should find out if there are eye conditions or diseases, like nearsightedness, or crossed eye, that run in the family. Share that information with your vision care professional.
Encourage protective eyewear during sports – Serious eye damage can result from injuries during sports. If your child plays basketball, any racket sports, or sports with a stick like hockey, or lacrosse you may want to consider having them wear some type of certified protective eyewear.
Remind your kids to wash their hands frequently – Over three million days of school are missed each year due to pink eye (acute conjunctivitis). Encourage your children to wash their hands often and try to avoid making contact with eyes.
Encourage kids to give their eyes a break from computer screens – Every 20-30 minutes your child should take a break from staring at their computer screen. Try using the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes take your eyes off your computer and look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help give the eyes a rest.
Once school starts you have to stay vigilant about your child’s eye health. Throughout the school year keep an eye out for symptoms that could indicate vision problems. The earlier problems are detected, the earlier they can be addressed. If you see any of the following symptoms contact your eye care provider for an exam:
• Avoids near tasks, like reading or writing
• Covering one eye or head in awkward position to read
• Reversal of letter (“d” instead of “b”)
• Skipping over letters or lines
• Frequent headaches
• Difficulty paying attention, diagnosed as ADD/ADHD
• Squinting, eye rubbing, blinking
At Coleman Vision we provide comprehensive family eye care in addition to functional vision exams and treatment for all ages in the unique areas of vision development, vision and learning, visual therapy and sports vision. With over 60 years of family service, we are the only clinic in the Joplin area uniquely trained and experienced in providing the full spectrum of functional, performance-based vision therapy and care.