It’s back-to-school time, and while parents are scrambling around getting their kids new clothes, school supplies, and schedules arranged, the most important part of a child’s learning may be ignored. It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of learning occurs through visual pathways—think about how hard it would be in a classroom without good vision! On that note, here are a few recommendations for optimizing your child’s vision for the upcoming year.
1. Get your child an eye exam. Kids don’t know when there’s a problem, and may be struggling harder than you think (even with good grades). Don’t wait for your child to complain. Optometrists can detect problems as young as six months of age.
2. Limit their exposure to digital devices. Children are constantly staring at screens (computers, TVs, iPhones, tablets, etc). This can strain their focusing system and potentially damage their retinas due to harmful high-energy blue-light exposure. At the very least, encourage the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at least 20 feet away.
3. Make sure they have the necessary safety eye protection. This includes sunglasses to protect from UV exposure and sports goggles to prevent eye injury while playing sports. Stop making excuses (the coach won’t allow them, they get sweaty, they don’t fit under the helmet, etc). Sports-related eye injuries are common, serious and preventable.
4. Get your child an eye exam. This one is worth repeating. It’s common for learning or behavioral problems (ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, etc.) to be misdiagnosed when a child simply has a vision problem.
Part of the new Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the affordable Care Act is to provide coverage for yearly comprehensive eye exams for all children ages 18 and under. There’s no reason your child shouldn’t be seen by an optometrist as soon as possible. The exams are simple and fun, and will ensure that your child is given every opportunity to excel in the upcoming school year!
Dr. Roxanna Potter is the owner of Personal Eyecare in Sylvania. You can contact her at 419-885-5300; email her at email@example.com; or visit the website at http://www.personaleyecare.com.