For many people, the end of summer means that it’s time for children to head back to school. While we understand that this season can be extremely hectic, between making sure that everyone has what they need and that everyone gets to where they need to be, it may be worth taking some extra time to pay a little attention to your child’s eyes as well. Most school districts around the country require basic vision screening for children in public school on an annual or semi-annual basis, but choosing instead to have your child undergo a thorough and comprehensive eye examination may help detect serious eye and vision problems early and help prevent those problems from having a serious impact on your child’s quality of life.
Many fail to realize just how important a role clear and healthy vision plays in a child’s academic performance, but when a child finds it difficult or even painful to focus on printed text, be it on a board or in a book, their attention tends to drift. Research conducted by the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) suggests that as many as 60% of children who are identified as “problem learners” actually suffer from undetected vision problems and that many of those children have been inaccurately diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Catching even minor vision problems like nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism early and taking the necessary steps to correct them can be a vital part of setting the stage for future academic success.
Moreover, increased reliance on electronic media, both in the classroom and as a source for study materials, has placed young students at an increased risk for developing a common work-place complaint called computer vision syndrome, Those who use a computer for two or more hours daily face the greatest risk of experiencing computer vision syndrome, or CVS, which can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and even neck and shoulder pain. The effects of computer vision syndrome are usually only temporary, particularly in children whose eyes are more flexible and resilient, but understanding the issue and taking basic steps to avoid it can make studying significantly less painful.
It is estimated that one in four school-age children have vision problems that, if left untreated, can affect learning ability, personality and adjustment in school and during adolescence a child’s eyesight can change very quickly. This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that all children receive vision testing every two years if no vision correction is required, or annually if eyeglasses or contact lenses are required, starting at around 3 years of age and lasting through their teenage years. While basic vision screenings can identify and treat common refractive errors, thorough, comprehensive eye examinations can also identify more serious conditions like lazy eye (amblyopia), eye misalignment (strabismus), and various other childhood optical diseases. When these eye tests are administered by trained eye care specialists, like those at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, they can even detect certain eye problems in children who do not yet know their letters or who are too young or too shy to verbalize their responses.
If you have concerns about your vision, or about the vision of someone you love, please feel free to call and schedule an appointment for a comprehensive vision exam from Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get more tips for healthy eyes.