The 2019-2020 academic year is here, and that means a few things need to be taken care of. Amid buying new clothes and school supplies, meeting with teachers, signing up for clubs and sports, and everything else that the new school year brings, it can be easy to forget about visiting the eye doctor. However, it’s not too late for kids to have eye exams early in the school year. We advise doing this every year, so that vision problems can be detected and treated before they have a chance to impact academic performance or affect overall health.
Most school districts in the United States require basic vision screenings of some sort, but these are far from sufficient in-and-of themselves. School vision screenings are important, but they’re also generally very basic and can vary in scope and quality from school to school. Furthermore, these screenings usually only test for visual acuity, and visual acuity is only one aspect of healthy eyes and good overall vision. To get the full picture of your child’s eye health, you’ll need to schedule regular routine and comprehensive medical eye exams—and now is a great time to do it.
We all know that poor vision can negatively impact a child’s academic performance, but it’s not just about whether they can see the chalkboard. Good vision is also valuable in more abstract ways. At any given time, as much as 90% of the information your brain is processing is visual. Therefore, anything that compromises the brain’s ability to collect accurate visual data can significantly disrupt the learning process. Furthermore, poor vision can harm a child’s ability to focus, making it difficult, frustrating, and/or painful to read printed text. According to research conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA), as much as 60% of children with academic performance problems may be suffering from an undiagnosed vision issue.
A child’s eyesight can change as they grow, so it’s important to keep their vision prescriptions current or to regularly confirm whether they need corrective lenses. The most common vision problems among children (basic refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) can be detected during a routine eye exam and easily corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses, but regular comprehensive medical eye exams are necessary to detect serious eye conditions such as macular degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and retinopathy. Furthermore, these eye exams can detect seemingly unrelated health problems like diabetes, thyroid problems, and high blood pressure in their earliest stages.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that children who need corrective lenses have an eye exam once a year, and that children who require no corrective lenses have an eye exam every two years. There’s no bad time for a child to have an eye exam, but the beginning of the school year is one of the best; this way, vision problems that may impact academic performance can be caught early.
If your child has just started school and is due for an eye exam, or if you or the rest of your family are interested in any of the many other services we offer, contact Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons to schedule an appointment today. Be sure to follow Dr. William Segal and Dr. Marc Lay on Facebook and Twitter for more eyecare information, fun facts, and the latest news and updates about eye health.