Back-to-school time is just around the corner, and the scramble to buy school clothes and new pencils, backpacks and notebooks will begin. Eye Associates Ophthalmologists remind busy parents not to neglect one of the most important learning tools: their children’s eyes.
Because children are still growing, being vigilant about eye health is important. The earlier problems are identified; the sooner they can be addressed. For healthy eyes and vision throughout the school year, Eye Associates recommends the following four tips:
1. Get regular childhood vision screenings – Children’s eyes change rapidly, making regular vision screenings an important step in detecting and correcting eye problems early. Eye exams are especially important before children enter Preschool and Kindergarten, as being able to see clearly is vital to learning efficiency.
For school-age children, a vision screening, which is less comprehensive than a dilated eye examination by an ophthalmologist, can be performed by a pediatrician, family physician, nurse or trained technician during regular checkups. If the screening detects a problem, the child may need to see an ophthalmologist -- an eye physician and surgeon – or other eye care professional.
2. Know and share your family eye health history – Everyone should find out whether eye conditions or diseases run in their family. Parents should share that information with the person performing the screening when possible. Examples of common eye conditions include nearsightedness, crossed eye, known as strabismus, and lazy eye, known as amblyopia. If these are not treated in childhood, they can cause permanent vision loss in one eye.
3. Watch for signals of eye problems – Parents should be alert to symptoms that could indicate an eye or vision problem, such as complaints of eyestrain, headaches and squinting when reading or performing other common activities. Other symptoms to look for include a white or grayish-white coloring in the pupil, one eye that turns in or out, or eyes that do not track in sync together.
4. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports – Eye injuries while playing sports can cause serious damage, whether by getting smacked with an elbow during basketball or hit with a hockey stick. If your child plays racket sports, hockey, field hockey, baseball or basketball, consider having them wear goggles or other certified protective eyewear.
“Having two children of my own, I know how busy and hectic life can be- especially when prepping for back-to-school,” says Sydney L. Tyson, M.D., M.P.H., President of Eye Associates and the SurgiCenter of Vineland. “However, it is critical that all children of school age have an eye exam before going back to school. This will prevent them from struggling before a teacher realizes that the child may need glasses.”