When is the right time to get a comprehensive eye exam?

According to the American Public Health Association, one out of four students (25%) have visual problems that are serious enough to impede learning. Even more frightening is that a majority of these children pass their school vision screenings with “20/20 vision” with little to no difficulty. The public sometimes defines “20/20” vision as “good vision” or being able to see the board clearly at school. Unfortunately, this is a misconception because most traditional school vision screenings do not test aspects of vision required for reading.

The key to understanding the relationship between vision and learning is realizing that vision is more than just being able to see the letters on an eye chart. Calling out letters, numbers, or pictures during an eye exam is one way to quantify how well an individual is able to see. This measurement is call visual acuity. The top number of the 20/20 fraction is the standard working distance of 20 feet; meaning that your vision is tested while you look at something the equivalent of 20 feet away. The bottom number is the number of the line of letters that is correctly identified during the exam.

Having 20/20 vision is important; however, seeing clearly does not guarantee comfortable vision. There are many individuals who see very clearly yet find it difficult to read or concentrate for more than several minutes. Remember: “20/20” is not perfect vision because the test does not evaluate the individual’s reading comfort, eye teaming, eye tracking, and eye focusing skills.

Early detection of any eye condition is imperative in preventing learning-related vision problems. Symptoms such as headaches, eye strain or pain, blurred, distorted, double vision, and/or short attention span can be early signs of a learning-related vision problem. This condition actually has a more negative impact on learning than vision problems that require glasses to see the board clearly.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam 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 at about age 5 or 6.

Your child’s eye doctor can help detect refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism as well as the following diseases:

  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes)

  • Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)

  • Color deficiency (color blindness)

Once the child begins school, yearly eye exams are recommended throughout the school years. Although yearly exam are the recommendation, do not hesitate to seek care from your local Optometrist/Ophthalmologist if you are experiencing any significant changes in your vision, seeing flashing lights or floating spots, or if your eye(s) are red, painful, or swollen as these may be signs of serious ocular conditions.

Eye Safety

Keeping your children’s eyes safe is another part of maintaining healthy vision. Eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children. There are about 42,000 sports-related eye injuries every year in America, and children suffer most of these injuries. Help prevent your child from being one of the more than 12 million children who suffer from vision impairment by remembering a few basic rules of safety:

  • All children should wear protective eyewear while participating in sports or recreational activities.

  • Purchase age-appropriate toys for your children and avoid toys with sharp or protruding parts.

  • Help your children have a successful school year by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam and taking safety measures to ensure their eyes are free from injury

  • Remember to schedule your child an eye exam today!

To Learn More visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/children-eye-screening

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