School routine should include eye exam
ATLANTA, Ga. (August 20, 2002)A timely vision test can make a difference in your childs other exams this year as he or she settles back into the classroom routine.
According to Prevent Blindness America, almost 80 percent of preschool-age children never get a vision screening or an eye exam, says Dr. Yvonne Johnson, director of medical affairs at Novartis Ophthalmics North America, leading manufacturer of ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. All too often, even back-to-school physicals do not include testing for common eye disorders such as amblyopia or strabismus. These vision problems can affect how well a child performs in class.
Prevent Blindness America reports that studies show that more than 12.1 million children (one in four school-age children and one in 20 preschoolers) have some type of vision problem. Dr. Johnson says children should receive an eye exam before entering school at age 4 or 5 and periodically after that.
Before school begins is a good time to schedule an eye exam for a child, she says. It becomes part of the back-to-school routine. But if they havent had one, they should schedule one now.
According to Dr. Johnson, vision problems can worsen and lead to more serious eye conditions if not detected and treated. These problems can also affect learning and athletic performance.
Children with vision problems may even be misdiagnosed with learning disabilities.
Parents and teachers may not be able to recognize vision problems in children, so it is important to have an eye exam by a trained professional, says Dr. Johnson, adding that parents should be aware of warning signals that their child may have an eye condition.
Prevent Blindness America suggests signs to recognize possible eye trouble in children. Look for these behaviors:
l Rubs eyes excessively
l Has difficulty with reading or other close-up work
l Holds objects close to eyes
l Blinks excessively or is irritable when doing close-up work
l Tilts or thrusts head forward
l Is unable to see distant things clearly
l Squints or frowns
Some eye conditions may be readily observed, said Dr. Johnson. Parents should seek medical help in the following cases:
l Crossed or misaligned eyes
l Recurring sties (infections) on eyelids
l Red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen eyelids
l Inflamed or watery eyes
l Color photos of eyes show white reflection instead of typical red or no reflection Parents should also seek help when children complain of the following conditions:
l Cannot see well
l Eyes itch, burn or feel scratchy
l Dizziness, headaches or nausea following close-up work
lBlurred or double vision
If a child exhibits one or more of these signs, says Dr. Johnson, parents should seek medical help from their eye care provider. Information is also available from Prevent Blindness America (www.preventblindness.org) or local Prevent Blindness affiliates. Last school year Prevent Blindness Georgia provided vision screening for 14,000 Georgia school children. More than 900 were referred to an eye doctor for further evaluation.