As kids head back to school this fall via virtual learning or in-person, Gainesville Eye Associates wants to remind parents about the importance of maintaining healthy vision in helping children achieve educational success. Whether kids are using iPads, laptops, reading books, or viewing whiteboards, ensuring their eyes are functioning and growing normally is key to their development and overall health.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology the vision system is not fully formed in babies and young children, therefore early detection of treatable eye disease in infancy and childhood can have far-reaching implications for vision and, in some cases, for general health. In fact, if left untreated in children, certain eye conditions may develop in ways that cannot be corrected later in life; some cases could even lead to permanent vision loss. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has issued four top tips for parents to follow to ensure healthy vision of school-aged children.
Tip 1: Get a child’s vision screened early – and regularly. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that children receive vision screening when they are newborns, between the ages of six months to one year and between the ages of three and three-and-a-half. Upon entering school, or whenever a problem is suspected, children’s eyes should again be screened for visual acuity and alignment.
Tip 2: Research your family history of childhood eye disease or impairment. If you have not already done so, find out if your family has any history of pediatric eye conditions, which could put your child at increased risk for the same impairment. The most common vision problems among children and adults that are genetically determined include strabismus crossed-eye, amblyopia lazy eye and refraction errors such as myopia nearsightedness, hyperopia farsightedness and astigmatism. Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are also hereditary. If you find history of these conditions, ensure your child is seen by an ophthalmologist.
Tip 3: Look out for symptoms of eye problems, which may include:
- White or grayish-white color in the pupil
- An eye that flutters rapidly from side to side or up and down
- Sensitivity to light
- Complaints of eye pain, itchiness, or discomfort
- Continuous redness
- Pus or crust
- Drooping eyelids
- Bulging eyes
- Eyes that look crossed, turn out or in, or don’t focus together
Screenings are the best way of detecting eye abnormalities, but if these symptoms occur, it is advisable to seek care from an eye doctor.
Tip 4: If your child is found to have an eye condition, encourage them to comply with their treatment. Strabismus and amblyopia are conditions that will not correct naturally; however early treatment can be highly effective and may include wearing an eye patch, eyeglasses, eyedrops, surgery or a combination of these methods. Wearing an eye patch, a therapy known as “patching” helps strengthen the weaker eye by covering the stronger eye with an eye patch, usually in the form of an adhesive bandage. If a child has been diagnosed and is patching, encourage them to keep patching while at school. If a child is struggling with the response of peers to his or her patching, a children’s book called “Jacob’s Eye Patch” may bring comfort. If untreated, amblyopia can cause irreversible visual loss. The best time for treatment is during the preschool years.
“The great majority of learning is done through the eyes” said Jane Edmond, M.D., pediatric ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “So, it’s important to keep track of a child’s eye and vision health as poor vision can negatively impact their ability to advance in school. Also, due to the way in which eyes develop, the earlier in childhood problems are diagnosed, the easier they can be to treat.”
Gainesville Eye Associates wishes all students a safe and healthy school year. Call TODAY 770-532-4444 to schedule an appointment to ensure your kids are “GRADE A” this school year!