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Help your Children "See" School Success

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Help your Children "See" School Success

The back-to-school countdown is on, and parents nationwide are scrambling to cross off priority items on their fall-semester checklists:

  1. Carpool schedule;
  2. Backpacks brimming with shiny supplies;
  3. New shoes and whatever else the kiddos have outgrown.

While all of the above can contribute to school success, one of the most important things that parents can do often isn’t even on their checklist:

Have your children’s eyes examined to ensure that vision issues aren’t impeding school success.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month – an ideal time for ATRIO Health Plans to remind parents that the proper functioning of their offspring’s eyes is central to excelling in school. In fact, some 80 percent of learning involves vision – including reading, writing, viewing a chalkboard, and using a computer. Additionally, many students are misdiagnosed with learning disabilities or behavioral problems when – in reality – they actually have vision impairment.

Eye Exam Schedule

Vision impairment affects one in four school-aged youngsters; it’s thus crucial for children to have comprehensive eye exams. The American Optometric Association recommends the following schedule:

  • The first year – Infants, especially premature babies, should have an eye exam by their first birthday.

Even from an early age, little ones can exhibit signs that could signal a vision disorder:

  • crawling in an unusual way;
  • bumping into furniture and walls;
  • losing balance when sitting or standing;
  • holding objects very close to their nose;
  • rubbing eyes often;
  • squinting frequently;
  • covering one eye;
  • operating eyes separately – e.g., one eye is looking left, while the other is looking right.
  • Preschoolers – Ages 2 to 3 represent a crucial-learning window. Consequently, preschoolers should be scheduled for an eye screening as soon as they have the ability to follow the examiner’s instructions.
  • Kindergarteners – The first year of school is a pivotal period for learning. As a result, it’s essential that – prior to starting kindergarten – youngsters complete a comprehensive eye exam.

Throughout the school years, parents should be vigilant about their children’s vision and watch for indications of potential problems, such as:

  • rubbing or blinking eyes frequently;
  • exhibiting a short attention span;
  • avoiding activities – such as reading – that are reliant on vision;
  • experiencing headaches often;
  • covering one eye;
  • tilting the head to one side;
  • holding reading materials noticeably close to the face;
  • having an eye that appears to turn inward or outward;
  • complaining of seeing double;
  • losing place repeatedly when reading;
  • failing to retain what was read.
  • If issues are detected – Children who have been prescribed glasses, or who have been diagnosed with other eye conditions, should see an eye-care professional at least annually.

Common Eye Conditions

Regardless if a child is displaying symptoms, parents should contact their pediatrician if they suspect that their youngster could be suffering from any of the following eye diseases:

  • Amblyopia – Commonly called “lazy eye,” this condition occurs when the eyes are misaligned, causing visual acuity to be much better in one eye than the other.
  • Strabismus – Often referred to as “crossed eyes,” this issue emerges when the eye muscles are not working together, thus causing misalignment of the eyes.
  • Ptosis – This issue is primarily indicated by a drooping upper eyelid that either partially or completely blocks vision.
  • Refractive errors – The most common refractive error is myopia – or, as it’s more commonly called – nearsightedness. Other forms of refractive errors include farsightedness and astigmatism.

Excelling academically is challenging enough, so – before this new semester starts – make sure that your child can “see” a clear path to school success.