As summer draws to a close, many of us are preparing for the new school year. As you check off school supplies and other back-to-school necessities, be sure to schedule your child’s annual vision exam. August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness month and during this time, we encourage parents and caregivers to arm themselves with the knowledge to protect their child’s vision. During August, we like to stress the importance of annual vision exams for the early detection and treatment for vision problems before children head back to class.
Schedule Your Child’s Back-To-School Vision Exam
Children should have their first eye exam at 6 months and then have another one at the age of 3. Once they begin to attend school or around the age of 5, they should have their vision examined annually. During adolescence, your child’s vision changes quickly and often through puberty. With regular and routine exams, we can monitor changes in your child’s vision which enables us to detect problems earlier and begin treatment before the condition has a chance to worsen.
We encourage parents to schedule their child’s eye exam before the start of the new school year as a majority of school curriculum is taught visually, and any undetected or untreated vision problems can significantly impact a child’s ability to learn and perform well in class.
During these eye exams, we look for signs of refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatisms. Refractive errors are common eye disorders where the shape of the eye prevents light from being bent properly resulting in blurred vision.
We also check for signs of vision conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), ptosis (drooping eyelids), and color deficiencies (color blindness) which can impact your child’s ability to see.
Signs To Watch For
If you suspect your child may have a vision problem, we encourage you to schedule an appointment for further testing. Signs of a vision problem may include:
- Closing one eye to see clearly
- Difficulty with hand-eye coordination
- Disinterest in reading or viewing objects at a distance of long periods
- Family history of vision disorders
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Holding objects close to the face
- Turning head to view objects
- Using fingers as a guide to read
- Wandering eyes
Eye safety is another part of protecting and maintaining your child’s vision as eye injuries are a leading cause of vision loss among children.
Injuries can occur anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. If your child plans to participate in sports this school year or recreationally after school, be sure he or she wears protective eyewear to significantly reduce the risk of eye injuries or trauma.
For smaller children, we recommend parents and caregivers purchase age-appropriate toys and check for warnings as certain toys may be hazards. Projectile toys such as foam darts, arrows, and missile-style firing toys can also pose a risk to your child’s vision health.
Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic, schools were relying more on technology to help teach future generations. Spending hours in front of a digital screen can cause eye fatigue, dry eyes, and eye strain. Be mindful of your child’s posture, angle of the screen, and brightness when they use computers for schoolwork. Make sure your child takes breaks often to allow their eyes to rest and reduce the risk of dry eyes and fatigue.
Help your child start the school year off right by scheduling a comprehensive vision exam before the start of term. In addition, please follow our recommendations to help maintain your child’s vision and reduce their risk of ocular injury. For more information on how best to protect your child’s vision or to schedule an appointment, contact St. Lucy’s Vision Center today.