Healthy eyesight key part of success in classroom
By Prevent Blindness America
CHICAGO — For many, the first day of school is quickly approaching. And parents know there is so much to be done before the first day of school to make sure their child has all of the tools to succeed this school year. A key part of this success starts with healthy eyesight in the classroom.
A child’s ability to see the blackboard and the words on a page clearly is critical to their learning experience. Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s oldest volunteer eye health and safety organization, has declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month in an effort to encourage parents to learn about ways they can help protect their child’s vision.
Often, children do not realize they have problems with their vision because they think how they see is how everyone else sees. They learn to compensate with their vision problems without fixing them, which can lead to more problems in school and later in life. Unfortunately, some students are misdiagnosed as having a learning disability or behavioral problems when they may simply have vision impairment. This confusion can be eliminated taking a child for a certified vision screening or an eye exam.
Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America, said: “Vision problems affect one in four school-aged children. We want all children to make sure their child’s eye problems do not go unnoticed this school year. A child should not have to struggle in school because of an undetected vision problem.”
Eye problems can range from common refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, to serious eye conditions, including the following:
• Amblyopia, or “lazy eye” — Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment in children. As the brain develops and receives diminished images from the affected eye, it begins to suppress those images and favor the unaffected eye. If this condition persists, the weaker eye may become useless. Amblyopia becomes more difficult to treat effectively as the child becomes older.
• Strabismus, or “crossed eyes” — Strabismus is a condition where eyes are misaligned or do not line up with one another. This problem is caused when the muscles do not work together. Strabismus may eventually lead to amblyopia. Approximately one in 50 children has strabismus.
Parents should hit the books as well to learn more about how to keep their children’s eyes healthy. Prevent Blindness America has created “Star Pupils,” a free program specifically designed to educate parents about what they can do to ensure healthy eyesight for their kids. Parents may visit Starpupils.org and receive free information about everything from common eye conditions in children to tips about how to protect eyes from injury while playing sports.
For more information about children’s eye health and safety, call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020, or visit starpupils.org.
From the Aug. 17-23, 2011, issue
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