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Why yearly eye exams are important for children

Now that the school year is in full swing, our children are using their eyes more than ever. They are focusing on white boards, iPads, tablets and the written page all day long.

The increased use of electronics in school puts extra strain on a child’s eyes. Also, as children progress in school, they face increasing demands on their visual abilities. The size of the print in school books becomes smaller, and the amount of time spent reading and studying increases significantly. These are all reasons why yearly comprehensive eye examinations for children are extremely important. Many parents think that the screening their child receives at school or at the pediatrician’s office is sufficient, but that is sometimes not the case. These screenings may miss significant eye problems which can affect the child’s performance in school and during sports.

Children don’t always complain when they have a vision problem. They may think that everyone sees that way, and they don’t realize that things should look clear. Also, far-sighted children can work their eyes extra hard to focus and see most things, but they don’t realize that they shouldn’t have to work hard to see. These children may also have difficulty reading or get headaches while reading. These type of problems will have a significant impact on learning and school performance. Comprehensive eye examinations not only detect refractive errors, binocular vision problems, and lazy eyes, but can also help detect ocular complications of diseases like Lyme disease and more serious eye conditions like Retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer inside the eye.

The American Optometric Association recommends that children have a comprehensive eye examination at 6 months old, 3 years old and when they enter kindergarten. Because vision can change frequently as a child grows, yearly eye examinations during the school-age years is important. Comprehensive eye examinations are one of the most important investments parents can make to help maximize their child’s education and contribute to overall health and well-being. Now is a great time to schedule your child for an eye exam.

Jodi Duda is an optometrist at Nittany Eye Associates.