It’s back to school time again and parents are busy buying backpacks, lunch bags and gym clothes, but one of the most important things that is often overlooked is making sure your child has an eye exam. Since vision can change rapidly as a child grows, it is important to have an annual checkup to make sure your child can see up close to read a book as well as to see the whiteboard at a distance.
Increased screen time is a major concern
With the tremendous spike in screen time for children caused by the COVID-19 pandemic shifting learning online, it is more important than ever to have your child’s eyes examined at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates. This increasing habit of computer, TV, video game and cell phone use for long periods of time has had a profound effect on accelerating cases of myopia in children.1
Eye exams vs. vision screenings
Early detection of vision problems can set your child up for success in school this year. If you’ve been relying on school vision screenings, it is important to know that they are not enough. According to the American Optometric Association, up to 75% of vision problems go undetected in school vision screenings.1
Unlike vision screenings, which only test a child’s reaction to visual clarity up to 20 feet, eye exams conducted by a board-certified ophthalmologist will examine overall eye health and potential diseases, refractory conditions, color vision, tracking, and acuity.
Learning is mostly visual
Since learning is 80% visual, it is important to make sure your child is set up for success by having an annual eye exam. Undiagnosed vision problems are common, affecting 1 in 4 children in the United States.2 This can have a tremendously negative impact on a child’s education as well as participation in sports and other activities.
Corrected vision can help
If your child is struggling at school, it is possible that vision problems are making things worse. Once a child has corrected vision, he or she often sees improvements in school performance. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, tired eyes and distraction issues can all be indicators that there might be a vision issue.
Watch out for warning signs
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) describes four hidden warning signs3 that your child may be struggling with vision problems:
- Concentration problems – a short attention span may be an indicator that your child has problems seeing clearly
- Skipping lines – if your child frequently loses his place while reading, it could be a vision problem
- Avoidance – if your child avoids reading or doing close-up work, it could be because he or she is not able to see it
- Laying head down – if you notice your child will lay his head down when drawing, writing or reading, or tips it to the side, then it could be caused by a refraction error that is helped by looking out of the side of the eye
Start them early
When should you take your child to the ophthalmologist? The AAO recommends4 the following schedule for infant and childhood eye exams:
- Newborn – screening for basic health
- 6-12 months – screening for healthy eye alignment and movement
- 12-36 months – photoscreening test to check for lazy eye
- 3 to 5 years – vision and eye alignment check and visual acuity check
- 5 years – eye exam
- Over 5 – yearly eye exam
Make an appointment today
Spots are filling up fast, so call today for an appointment for your child and come to one of our two Colorado locations for an eye exam. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are experienced with children and able to offer some of the best vision care in the region.
What does your child’s school year look like? In-person, online at home, graduated returning, hybrid learning? No matter how your child is going to receive his or her education this year, clear vision is crucial to school success. Since being able to see properly can directly impact a student’s academic achievement, Colorado Ophthalmology Associates recommends each child receives an annual eye exam in preparation for a great school year.
To get your student started on the right track, schedule a comprehensive eye exam today. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are able to make sure your child is ready for success in a predominantly visual-based learning environment.
What does a back-to-school vision test include?
Your board-certified ophthalmologist will use a few different tests to determine your child’s visual acuity and eye health.
This eye exam may include:
- Pupil dilation to examine optic nerve and retina
- Examination for conditions such as lazy eye, drooping eyelid, color blindness or crossed eyes
- Testing depth perception
- Testing eye-hand coordination
- Examination for near-sightedness or far-sightedness
- Recommendation for eye protection for specific sports
Warning Signs in Children
Many parents feel a false sense of security because they know their child receives a vision screening in school each year. In fact, these screenings only catch a small percentage of the vision problems with which students may be silently struggling.
As a parent, you have to stay vigilant about your child’s vision health. To help, here are some warning signs you can watch out for that can tip you off to your child’s vision problems:
- Squinting to see signs in the car or unable to read signs
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Holding book or electronic device close to the face
- Squinting to look at you
- Unusual amount of tripping or clumsiness
- Eye-hand coordination problems that show up in sports
- Doing poorly in school subjects
- Sensitivity to light
- Frequently rubbing eyes
- Stopping normal activities such as doing puzzles or reading
- Asking friends to read what’s on the board
- Shortened attention span
- Inability to look right at the camera for pictures
What about screen time and eye health?
With the sharp increase in online learning, ophthalmologists are seeing more and more cases of nearsightedness and computer fatigue symptoms1. If your child is suffering from dry eyes, headaches or tired eyes, try these tips to help offset the effects of screen time.
- Take a 20 second eye break every 20 minutes. Look out a window or focus on something far away. Set a timer for this action.
- Get plenty of time out in the sun away from devices.
- Keep computer screens away from window glare.
- Keep screen at least 18 to 24 inches from the face.
- Remind child to blink more often.
At what age should I begin my child’s eye exams?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends eye screening beginning at birth2 and continuing to the start of school, then annually after that. If you’ve never had your child’s eyes examined, now is the time to start. Your doctor will do a comprehensive eye exam to ensure healthy vision.
Even if your child is no longer a child but is going off to college this year, there are some important eye health tips for college students. Make sure he or she has an eye exam as well before leaving.
Schedule your child’s back-to-school vision exam today!
Set your student up for success with a comprehensive vision exam at one of our two Colorado locations. Choose the location that is convenient for you and let our board-certified ophthalmologists do the rest. Call us today to make an appointment @