School is starting up once again which means school supplies, new clothes, and of course, well-child visits, sports physicals, and vaccination updates, but what about eye exams? August happens to be Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. During a well-visit, your child’s healthcare provider will usually do a vision screening, but the American Optometric Association estimates that vision screenings miss up to 75% of children with vision problems. They recommend getting your child’s first comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist 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 and then every other year. If you suspect something is wrong with your child’s vision, trust your gut, and don’t wait. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about your concerns. Sometimes vision problems can affect learning, so the sooner a problem is treated the better.
Most doctors can tell when children are beginning to have problems with their vision. As parents, we need to keep our eyes open. Know your family's vision history. Watch for wandering eyes, be aware of disinterest in reading or problems with your child seeing things that are far away. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately make an appointment with your local ophthalmologist for testing and prompt treatment.
In addition to vision problems, we also need to protect our kids from eye injuries. About 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur every year. Children should wear protective eyewear while playing sports to avoid eye injuries. In addition, be sure your child is playing with age-appropriate toys. Be aware that younger kids could find the toys of older kids, which could have sharp edges or be dangerous to them. By taking the proper steps, you could prevent your child from being one of the 12 million kids who suffer from vision impairment.