It's August and school is right around the corner. Enrollment forms and orientation schedules are being completed, immunizations are being done (will address in tomorrows article) and well visits are being accomplished--but what about your child's eyes?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Of children ages three to five, close to one in 20 have a problem that could result in permanent vision loss if left untreated. Eighty percent of preschoolers do not receive vision screenings. August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month - a great signal for you to get your child's eyes checked before school starts.
Most children have healthy eyes. But there are conditions that can threaten good vision. Because you can't always "look" into your child's eyes to tell if they have eye health problems, set up some time today for an eye exam. Keep these following things in mind:
- Your child's eyes should be examined during regular pediatric appointments and vision testing should be conducted around age three.
- Parents should be aware of signs that may indicate their child has vision problems, including: wandering or crossed eyes; a family history of childhood vision problems; disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects; and squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner while watching television.
If you suspect that your child has any of the following eye diseases, do not delay, talk to your child's pediatrician. Keep an eye out for lazy eye, crossed eyes, drooping of the eyelid, color deficiency and refractive errors.
According to American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 12 million children suffer from vision impairment, and eye injuries are one of the leading causes of vision loss in children. There are an estimated 42,000 sports-related eye injuries each year and the majority of them happen to children.
Parents should talk to their children about the importance of eye safety and what they can do in order to protect their eyes such as wearing protective eyewear while participating in sports or recreational activities, and playing with their age-appropriate toys. Avoid toys with sharp or protruding parts.
One of the best ways to ensure your child keeps his/her good vision throughout life is to set a good health example.
Finally a few tips to help plan for that trip to the eye doctor:
- Schedule the appointment when your child is not likely to be sleepy or hungry. Schedule around those cranky times of day.
- If you know that you may be spending some time in the waiting room have a plan in place. Bring a toy, coloring book or storybook. Even a snack can help pass time.
- To lessen your child's anxiousness have the child watch an eye exam being done on a family member. Encourage your child to ask questions.
- Another wonderful technique is to bring your child's favorite toy. The doctor can "examine" the doll or bear. This can also help keep little hands off of expensive equipment.
- Finally, as a parent you should stay calm. Children can sense if you are nervous and in turn may become anxious.
Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of proper eye care for youths. When in doubt, the best thing you can do for your child is to get a comprehensive eye exam from an eye professional. So take a few minutes and call your eye doctor!