Start the school year with premium vision.
It’s back to school time yet again. Pencils and notebooks? Check. Fresh kicks? Check. Lunch packed? Check.
One critical component of preparing your child for the upcoming school year is to make sure that his or her eyes are functioning at their highest level. Many studies have correlated poor vision with a reduction in academic performance. Elementary age children have eyes that grow rapidly – leading to changing prescriptions. In addition to near-sightedness and far-sightedness, kids sometimes have physiological problems with focusing, eye alignment, eye dominance, or binocular vision. In much rarer cases, kids can have eye pathology that isn’t detected until their first exam. I’ve seen several 50-70 year old patients with horrible vision in one eye due to conditions that were left untreated as a child. It’s a sad thing for them, that likely would of been preventable had they been examined as a child.
An annual eye exam is important for everyone. It’s especially important for children due to their developing eye and optic systems. Needing to see the chalkboard across the room, computer screens, and homework places special demands on kids’ eyes. One complication with younger children is that they don’t have a “point of reference” for good vision. I’ve seen numerous third or fourth graders who’ve been struggling to see the board for years but had no idea of their difficulty. They didn’t understand what one was supposed to be able to see well. Many parents express hesitation about subjecting their young ones to all the bright lights and tests that they are used to receiving as adults. Dr. Bazan and I both adapt our examination procedures, tests, and language to the age of patient. We want the eye exam to be a positive experience that doesn’t frighten the child.
Research has shown that key visual issues and developmental patterns can be detected in kids a few months after birth. At Park Slope Eye we can track kids vision and health even at age 1. Other tests and examination procedures are used for toddlers to ensure that they are healthy as well.
For a 5 year old, leaving mom and dad to go to school can be a difficult time. They shouldn’t have to start with a disadvantage due to visual problems. Getting them checked can let you know that their eyes are normal for their age demographic. If any problems are detected, the interplay between their eyes and brain at this age affords us the ability to treat things much more simply.
As kids’ bodies are growing rapidly, the front and back portions of the eyes frequently grow at different rates. This simply means that their prescription changes…and it can change fast! Parents often think kids complain about their glasses not working because they want new frames or perhaps their best friend just got new glasses. It’s very possible that a prescription that’s less than a year old might be outdated.
Middle school & high school
The addition of sports, new hobbies, and other activities can present new demands on a visual system. Also, typically the amount of homework increases around this age. Often students complain of strain while studying or trying to see the board. It’s usually in this age range that kids develop an interest in contact lenses for social or optical reasons. With many prescriptions, a switch to contacts from glasses can actual improve the over quality of vision and “ease of use” of one’s Rx.
It seems like 95% of the college experience is PowerPoint, Facebook, and textbooks. This puts an intense demand on a person’s optic system. While young people’s eyes typically can handle it to a point, they often reach a threshold where they need some help. I routinely prescribe special glasses to help college students with work (and play), drops for dryness and other problems, and simple exercises to relieve fatigue.
If your child hasn’t had an eye exam or it’s been a number of years, now is a perfect time to schedule an appointment. With children we have the ability to take care of their current needs, but we also have a special opportunity to keep their vision and eye health at its highest potential for the rest of their life.