While to some it may feel as though summer has just begun, others are already feeling the pressures of checking off every item on their back to school lists. With all the hassle of stocking up on school supplies or finding the perfect pair of shoes, there is often one important item that gets left off every parent’s list – a comprehensive eye exam. Although schools generally do some basic testing of children’s vision, there is no doctor to perform a comprehensive exam or diagnose problems with your child’s eyesight. According to experts, nearly 90 percent of what is taught in school is done so visually, therefore without excellent vision, children are left at a disadvantage. Those with poor eyesight may struggle with school and learning, leaving them unable to reach their maximum potential. A yearly comprehensive eye exam can not only ensure your child’s vision is healthy or corrected, but also rule out diseases that can potentially lead to vision loss.
Just as their bodies are rapidly growing, children’s eye are also changing. The slightest change in vision can cause eye strain, headaches or blurred vision which can be very distracting in school. Myopia and hyperopia, also known as near or farsightedness, are both common conditions in young children, with the ability to worsen rapidly during the growing years until later stabilizing in teenage years and into their early twenties.
Additionally, with recent increases in digital technology, both at home and in schools, it is important to monitor the face time children and teens have with their digital devices such as laptops, tablets and cell phones. Many individuals suffer from physical eye discomfort after screen use for more than two hours, reflecting collective symptoms know as digital eye strain. According to The Vision Council, 72 percent of Americans report their children and teens get more than two hours of screen time per day while 30 percent of this group report they experience at least one of the following symptoms after being exposed for more than two hours:
- Neck/shoulder pain
- Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes
- Reduced attention span
- Poor behavior
With a growing number of schools implementing iPads, tablets or laptops in the classroom, it is even more important to ensure your children’s eye health with routine comprehensive eye exams and identifying any symptoms of digital eye strain in addition to any headaches, eye strain or blurred vision.
Adding comprehensive eye exams to your yearly back to school routines will help ensure a successful school year as well as protect your children’s eye health and future. Speak to your doctor about including optomap® as part of the exam – it is a non-invasive option for your child and takes only seconds to get a highly-detailed view of the retina, which is critical for early disease detection.