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Back to School

The new school year is coming up fast, and parents and students are getting ready to embark on new adventures and experiences. But this is also a reminder to parents that good eyesight is possibly the most important school supply your child may not have. A good education for children doesn't just mean good schools, good teachers and good friends. Good vision is just as important. Your child’s eyes are his/her gateway into the world of learning. When your child’s vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer. Children are not likely to recognize vision problems or report them, and it is therefore the responsibility of parents and teachers to recognize signs of visual problems in their children.
 
There is a basic set of vision skills that are needed for school. The first is near vision. This is the ability to see clearly at a distance of about 10-13 inches. This is obviously important for reading, writing and close work at your child’s desk. Distance vision, the ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm’s reach, is also important in order to see the board in the classroom, and Binocular coordination, or the ability to use both eyes together, is important for extra-curricular activities. Both are vision skills needed to be successful in school. Additionally, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye-hand coordination are also important. As a parent, it is your job to be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem. A few examples of common conditions that may effect your child's ability to learn are below:
 
If your child gets headaches while trying to read or do other close work, exhibits a short attention span during visual tasks, and/or has to use a finger to guide reading, it is possible your child may have a condition called convergence insufficiency. This is a condition in which the eyes have a hard time converging on a certain point close up. This may also cause the words to “jump” or “blur” when your child attempts to read.
 
You may also find that your child's eyes do not seem to move together, that the eyes do not face the same direction, and/or that your child tilts his/her head or squints in order to see better. This could indicate a condition called Strabismus. This results from muscles in one or both eyes being misaligned or underdeveloped. This can cause severe difficulty for your child, and may cause more significant problems, including loss of depth perception, if not treated promptly. Other symptoms to look out for that may signal vision related problems are difficulty remembering or identifying shapes, difficulty remembering what was read, excessive blinking or rubbing of his/her eyes, or placing his/her head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing.
 
Because changes in your child’s vision can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. Remember, school vision or pediatrician’s screenings are good, but they are not a substitute for a thorough eye exam.
 
To learn more, contact your eye doctor today.

Comprehensive Eye Exam Vs. Vision Screening

Keeping up with your overall eye health is very important no matter what your age. This is why it is important for both adults and children to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every year. However, many people think that walking into their local eye glasses shop and having their eye glasses or contact lens prescription updated counts as their yearly visit. This unfortunately common misperception can have some dangerous consequences. This is why it is important to understand the difference between a Comprehensive Eye Exam, that can only be performed by a certified Optometrist, and a Vision Screening, which is much less thorough and does not give as deep an insight into your eye health.

As a first rule, if your spending $30-40 on an exam – your likely not getting the complete picture. While the price may be attractive, as with anything, you get what you pay for. These kinds of exams will test your vision and will be able to determine whether you need new glasses or contacts, but that’s about it. Comprehensive Eye Exams, by contrast, go much deeper and will tell you much more.

By contrast, a Comprehensive Eye Exam, along with testing to see if you need new glasses, we will also check for the actual health of your eye. Medical records are consulted and tests are run to see if there is risk of developing any conditions that could harm your overall visual and ocular health. Among the tests performed are tests to see if there are any signs of eye disease such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, which have little or no symptoms until significant damage has already occurred. With diseases such as these, it is essential to catch them early, or else the risk of losing a significant amount of sight increases dramatically.

Besides your eye health, your overall bodily health can be detected through your eyes as well. A Comprehensive Eye Exam also includes examinations of the retina, cornea, blood vessels and nerves for any signs that might signify the onset of tumors, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes, among other conditions that can be first detected in the eyes.

While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to get your prescription updated from time to time while you’re passing by, it is important to know that it doesn’t count as your yearly exam. Come see us at least once a year for the full picture!

The Importance of Pediatric Eye Exams

Proper eye care is an extremely important part of a child's development. Developments during this period will effect a child for the rest of his/her life. It is extremely important that children receive attention regarding their eyesight from a very early age to be sure that everything is developing correctly and to diagnose and treat any problems before they worsen or lead to more serious complications. Because many conditions may show symptoms even while your child is still an infant and become much harder to correct the longer they go untreated, it is very important to have regular eye exams for your child. Beginning from the age of 6 months, children should have comprehensive eye exams at least every year to assess any conditions that may hinder a child's development.
 
Many eye conditions that can cause difficulties later in life can be easily detected and treated in childhood if parents are cautious to have eye exams early and often for their children. Two such conditions are Strabismus and Amblyopia. 
 
In Strabismus the eyes are not aligned together, with one eye looking straight while the other may look inward, outward, up or down. This happens when muscles that control eye movements are misaligned or underdeveloped. Children who have other conditions affecting development, such as cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, prematurity or brain tumors are especially susceptible. In eyes which are healthy and properly aligned, each eye sees essentially the same image of an object being viewed, with only slight variation and the brain combines these two slightly varied perspectives into a single interpreted image. This is called Binocular Fusion. In a child with Strabismus, the misalignment of the eyes sends completely different images, causing Binocular Fusion to be unusually difficult or impossible. The child's brain eventually reacts to the differing images sent by the misaligned eyes by eliminating images coming from one of the eyes. This can cause a condition called amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” Amblyopia, sometimes known as lazy eye is a condition in which a person has very poor sight in one eye because that eye did not develop healthy sight during the person's development. Several problems can develop that can seriously effect vision from childhood into adulthood if amblyopia is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. The weaker eye may develop a serious and permanent visual defect and depth perception may be lost.
 
You should also be cautious to have regular eye exams for your child because your child's success in school relies heavily upon enjoying proper vision. In these eye exams the doctor will check for less serious conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Your child's eyesight is his or her front line in the struggle for knowledge. If your child doesn't receive proper eye care, the classroom may just be one big blind spot, and you may be sentencing your child to failure before the battle has even begun. Your eye doctor also needs to check early for basic skills related to good eyesight for learning. These include eye movement skills, Peripheral awareness and Hand-eye coordination.
 
Contact your eye doctor today for more information, and to schedule your child's comprehensive eye exam.