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CARE

Are glasses part of your child's back-to-school needs?

Back-to-school is a beautiful and busy time for my three girls. It also brings back many good memories for me. One in particular was in fifth grade when a teacher was writing on the board and I could not read what she was writing. I looked around and everyone else seemed to understand, except for me. I went into the optometrist and sure enough, I needed glasses. I was amazed at all I was missing in school because of my vision problems. 

Now as an optometrist, I see many kids in this same situation. Some are not even aware that they are missing so much of the world around them. It is common for a child not to mention they have a vision problem. Kids often assume they see the same as everyone else. 

Vision does not fully develop until after birth and continues to form until six years of age. Children need to experience the world for the brain and the eyes to grow and build strong connections. But keep in mind, vision problems can develop at any age.

These are a few signs that your child may have a vision problem:

  • squinting
  • sitting too close to the TV
  • holding a book very close to read
  • an eye that wanders (the direction may be in, out, up or down)
  • short attention span for the child's age
  • rubbing their eyes
  • poor depth perception, or poor hand-eye or eye-body coordination
  • headaches after reading or near tasks

Here are some activities that can be done at home to help develop better vision in children ages three to five:

  • play outdoors
  • practice catching and throwing a ball
  • stack blocks, put a puzzle together or similar activities that use fine motor skills
  • color, trace, draw, cut and paste
  • read out loud and let them follow along as you read
  • help them to develop their right and left awareness 

It's important to note that there is a difference between a screening and a vision exam. School screenings have improved significantly over the years, but passing a school screening may not always catch these issues. It is also necessary to have an eye doctor look at the eyes for refractive error, eye turn and also the health of the eyes.

Optometric guidelines suggests a vision exam at age three and, depending on risk and what was found during the eye exam, every one to two years after that. If you have children that are older and have never had an eye exam, it is never too late to get them evaluated.

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