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With August in full force and school right around the corner, it is time to talk about an important part of preparing for the next school year: eye health. August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month, was declared so back in 2015 by Prevent Blindness America.
According to several Optometrists and Ophthalmologists, 80% of learning occurs through the eyes, therefore, healthy vision is essential to a child's success in the classroom. In addition to school supply shopping and purchasing those back-to-school clothes, don't forget to add scheduling a comprehensive eye exam as part of the back to school to-do list!
A good rule of thumb is to have your children's eyes examined during well-child visits, beginning around three years of age. An eye doctor - or, Ophthalmologist - can help detect any refractive errors within the eyes. These include vision problems, such as: nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
By performing a thorough eye exam, an eye doctor can diagnose the following diseases, and provide treatment for them:
- Amblyopia: lazy eye
- Strabismus: crossed eyes
- Ptosis: drooping of the eyelid
- Color Deficiency: color blindness
If you or your eye doctor suspect that your child may have a vision problem, you can make an appointment with a local ophthalmologist for further testing. However; there are some specific warning signs that indicate if a child has a vision problem. Some of these warnings include:
- Wandering or crossed eyes
- A family history of vision problems
- Disinterest in reading, or viewing different objects
- Squinting or turning the head is an unusual manner when watching television
- Frequently rubbing the eyes
- Difficulty reading, doing close work, or avoiding anything up close
- Frequent headaches, accompanied by the feeling of nausea
Your child may also mention that objects look blurry or out of focus, their eyes may feel scratchy and burn, or that they are experiencing double vision. If you see or notice any of these symptoms, be sure to schedule an appointment with an eye care professional. Amblyopia, Strabismus, Color Blindness, and Refractive errors are the most common conditions that affect children's vision.
Eye safety is also another part of maintaining healthy vision, and plays a large role in your child's overall eye health. Eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children, when 90% of these injuries can easily be prevented.
Eye injuries can happen any time, and anywhere. While accidents do happen, it is important to educate yourself and your children in regards to the prevention of any eye injuries.
There are approximately 42,000 sports-related eye injuries that occur every year in America, and children suffer most of these injuries. In fact, 12 million children suffer from vision impairment due to not having proper safety to protect their eyes. You can help to safeguard your child's vision by purchasing age appropriate toys, avoiding toys or other objects that have sharp or protruding parts, and by having them wear protective eyewear while participating in sports and other recreational activities.
If an accident does occur, advise your child not to touch or rub their eye, and seek medical attention from a trusted eye care professional as soon as possible.
Start this school year off on the right foot! Help your children be successful in their studies by scheduling a comprehensive eye examination, and by taking safety measures to ensure their eyes are free from injury.