Questions Parents Ask about Children’s Eye Exams
Although it may seem as though summer just got underway, it’s never too early to get a jump start on all the things you need to do to get ready for the coming school year. One of the most important of those things is a comprehensive medical eye examination. Most school districts around the country require basic vision screening for children in public school on an annual or semi-annual basis, but even if your school does not, a thorough eye exam can potentially detect serious eye and vision problems early and help prevent those problems from adversely affecting a child’s classroom experience and quality of life. At Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. William Segal and Dr. Marc lay have been performing eye exams on both adults and children for many years, so we can provide detailed answers to the common questions that parents ask about pediatric eye exams.
How can minor vision problems affect my child’s performance in school?
According to experts, at least 80% of all learning is visual, so it is likely that any problems with clear vision will impact academic performance. In addition, vision problems can often be subtle and children may not realize exactly what is happening to them. In an effort to compensate, they may unconsciously crane their necks or squint, which can lead to eye fatigue or even head and neck pain. Discomfort and frustration may then prompt the child to act out. Research conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA) suggests that as many as 60% of children who have been identified as “problem learners” actually suffer from undetected vision problems, usually common refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. In some cases, these children may even be inaccurately diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
I just got my child an eye exam two years ago; do they really need another one?
Contrary to popular belief, the eyes actually continue to grow throughout childhood and do not reach full adult size until after puberty. This means that a child’s vision can easily change over the course of a single year. More significantly, many serious eye conditions, like cataracts, may not have recognizable symptoms in their early stages. A comprehensive medical eye examination can catch these conditions early so that we can treat them before they have a chance to do serious and potentially irreversible damage. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that all children receive vision testing every two years if no vision correction is required, or annually if eyeglasses or contact lenses are required, starting at around 3 years of age and lasting through their teenage years.
What’s the difference between vision screening and a comprehensive medical eye exam?
It is common for a pediatrician or family practice doctor to conduct a brief eye examination, called a routine vision screening, during a regularly scheduled well child visit. However, this is not a substitute for a full comprehensive medical eye exam performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Only an optometrist or ophthalmologist has the advanced training and clinical tools needed to perform a thorough evaluation of your child’s eyes and vision and to catch the early signs of serious issues that a routine vision screening might miss. Your child’s doctor or school nurse will most likely recommend a comprehensive medical eye exam if your child fails a vision screening, if the results of a vision screening are inconclusive, or if a screening cannot be performed for any reason.
Taking care of your child’s comprehensive medical eye exam during the summer is not only easy and convenient, but it can also give you peace of mind and help you avoid the stress of trying to get it done at the last minute. If you are interested in learning more about the options available at Georgia Eye, in need of a full comprehensive medical eye exam, or just need a routine eye check to update your glasses or contact lens prescription, our team can help. Please feel free to contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons today to make an appointment, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips for healthy eyes.