If you’re the parent of a student who’s going back to school or college soon, chances are you’ve got a checklist working. New backpack? Check! New gym uniform? Check! New packs of pens and pencils? Check!
Yes, you’ve got that list working. But have you forgotten to book a back-to-school eye exam? Even if your son or daughter already has eyeglasses that were up-to-date before the summer began, don’t forget to schedule an eye exam before those September school bells ring. Children’s vision can change quickly, and often dramatically, in only a few months. That holds true not only for kids who are heading back to elementary school, but also for high schoolers and even kids who are off to college. During the years when kids are growing rapidly, vision changes can change quickly too.
Correct Vision Correction is Critical to School Success
There are three fundamental reasons why . . .
- First, students must have good distance vision so they can see projections, words and images that are displayed on whiteboards and blackboards.
- Second, students must have corrected near vision that enables them to read from books, tablets and computer displays.
- Third, students should not suffer from headaches and eye strain that result from uncorrected, or incorrectly corrected vision.
What a Back-to-School Eye Exam Should Cover
- Myopia (nearsightedness) – This condition can develop quickly in elementary school-aged students. It happens when an image that comes into the eye is focused in front of the retina instead of clearly onto it. This condition can be easily diagnosed. The good news? Younger children often grow out of it as they enter their teens. But it is critical to have corrective steps taken for as long as the condition lasts.
- Hypertopia (farsightedness) – This condition develops more often in the teens. It happens when the image that comes into the eye is effectively focused behind the retina. As a result, your child probably enjoys good distance vision, but his or her vision is unfocused or blurry when reading or looking at objects that are positioned close. Again, this is a condition that is easy to diagnose during an eye exam, and easy to correct with prescription eyeglasses.
- Eye misalignments – These issues are more common in younger school children than in any other age group. These conditions can be amblyopia (once commonly called “lazy eye”) and strabismus (misaligned eyes). These conditions are also easily diagnosed during eye exams. Surgery may sometimes be required to correct these problems, but in the great majority of cases other remedies will solve the problem, including glasses that compensate for any misalignment and exercises.
- Astigmatism – This very common, and very correctible, condition occurs when the shape of the lens in the eye is not perfectly symmetrical or round. That causes distortions – vertical lines may appear heavier than horizontal lines (or vice versa), for example, or a perfect circle may appear out of round. Astigmatism often lasts throughout life. It is easily diagnosed during your back-to-school eye exam, and in virtually all cases can be easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- Summer-related eye irritations – Summer is a time when children are often exposed to irritants, including chlorine in pools or airborne allergens. Some children also experience eye irritations from sun block lotions or insect repellants. Now that the summer is coming to an end, this is the perfect time to screen your child for those irritations, which can cause itching, watering and other symptoms. Let your eye care professional screen for those problems during your back-to-school checkup.
It’s time to send our kids back to school with bright, happy, shiny eyes that are ready to absorb all the knowledge of the new school year.
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