Healthy Vision Essentials for Kids

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August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, which helps raise awareness about children and their vision. Did you know that according to Prevent Blindness America, one in four school-age kids experiences vision problems? If left untreated, these problems can affect learning ability, as well as social development and overall adjustment in school.

Good vision includes age appropriate visual acuity, visual integration and visual skills such as eye teaming, eye focusing and eye motility. However, many eye conditions have no symptoms that can be identified by parents or teachers. Detecting possible issues early is the best way to ensure your child has healthy visual development. These signs indicate that your child might be at risk for eye problems/requires medical attention:

• Obvious pain or trouble seeing
• Cuts or tears in the eyelid
• One eye does not move as well as the other, or one sticks out more than the other
• Unusual pupil shape or size
• Blood in the clear part of the eye
• Something in the eye or under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed

Though most eye problems in children can be corrected if detected and treated early, some kids may have serious vision issues they are unaware of. Certain problems─if left untreated for even a short time─can lead to permanent vision loss, so appropriate eye care/protection is essential.

According to the American Optometric Association, children should have an eye exam by 6 months of age, again by age 3, and just before starting school. School-age kids should then have an exam every two years if they have no visual problems. However, if your child requires eyeglasses or contact lenses, schedule visits annually. These tips can also help:

• Take care to prevent accidental falls, mishandling of sharp objects, and contact with harmful household products
• Guard against sports-related eye injuries by encouraging goggles, helmets, and other protective gear
• Provide your children with sunglasses. The effects of UV radiation are cumulative and may increase the chance of developing irreversible eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

So, along with back-to-school shopping, you might designate August as the month for basic healthcare services like immunizations, dental cleanings, a physical─and a thorough vision/eye exam.

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