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BACK TO SCHOOL TIME – A PERFECT TIME FOR AN EYE EXAM!

It’s back to school time again!  Back to routines, homework, testing and early bedtimes.  Are your kids visually ready?   Before you know it, the schools will be administering a vision screening on your children.   Do you know what the screening entails?   What does it test for?   What eye problems will it catch?  What eye problems will it not pick up on?

School vision screenings in North Carolina

Testing done: Distance vision, Near vision (with referral only) and Stereopsis.

What eye problems will these tests catch?   Need for vision correction, amblyopia (lazy eye)

Comprehensive eye examination with an optometrist or ophthalmologist

Testing done:  Detailed history regarding vision problems/school issues/gestational history/systemic diseases/family history, distance vision testing, near vision testing, stereopsis, Worth 4 Dot, binocular vision testing, color vision, cover test, peripheral vision evaluation, glaucoma testing, health examination of entire eye.

So, my child passed his/her school screening.   Why are they still having trouble in school or complaining about their vision?

80% of how children learn is through vision, therefore it is very closely linked to the learning process. Issues with vision may manifest as trouble with schoolwork.  If your child performs poorly in school or has a reading or learning problem, they should have comprehensive eye examination to rule out any visual cause.   Additionally, vision problems can manifest as behavior or attention issues.   If your child has exhibited poor concentration skills or behavior issues, they should have a comprehensive eye examination to rule out visual causes.

One in four children has a vision problem that can cause learning and behavior problems.

Symptoms of these problems range from:

Avoidance from reading/not enjoying reading

Using their finger to guide reading

Decreased attention span

Difficulty copying off the board at school, throwing or catching a ball

Sitting too close to TV or reading a book too close to face

Eye rubbing/excessive blinking

Poor performance in school

Headaches while doing near work

Blurry or double vision

Signs of other eye problems you may notice in your child:

Crossed or drifting/wandering eye(s)

Tilted head position

Closing or covering one eye

Squinting

Red eyes

Crusting on the eyelids

Watery eyes

Swollen eyelids

How does the increased use of digital devices affect our children’s eyes?

There has been a significant increase in the use of digital devices in schools and the life of our children (smartphones, tablets, etc).  This use has started at a much younger age than in the past.   My children knew how to operate my iphone and ipad before age 2!  The illuminated screens tend to be more visually demanding than printed text.   Over the past 5-10 years, we have been seeing a significant trend in the increase of myopia (nearsightedness).  We believe these two trends are correlated.   The lack of peripheral stimulation (from outdoors) has been noted to be a cause of this increase in nearsightedness.    Parents often ask me if their child is damaging their eyes by being on their tablets/phones/computers/video games too much.   I tell them that we are seeing a significant increase in myopia (nearsightedness) and dry eye in children, and I recommend that kids go outside to play more frequently.   It is OK to be on these devices, but try to limit the time.

How frequently should your children have a comprehensive eye exam?

The recommended schedule from the American Optometric Association (AOA) is:

Infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age.  Children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade (age 5-6).

School age children should have an eye exam every 1-2 years if no vision correction is required.   Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should have a comprehensive eye exam every year or more frequently if recommended by their eye doctor.

Come in and see us at Metrolina Eye Associates for your child’s (and your) comprehensive eye exam.   We are conveniently located in Stallings (NC), Monroe (NC), and Indian Land (SC).   Call for an appointment today!

By Michelle Beachkofsky, OD

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