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Include an Eye Exam as Part of Your Back to School Checklist

child eye exam

As you are out collecting supplies and picking out your child’s new backpack for the upcoming school year, you may also want to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician or family eye doctor. Children of all ages should have regular checkups to ensure any vision problems are sooner rather than later.

Good vision is essential for a child’s physical development, school success and well-being. It has been estimated that as much as 80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes. Reading, writing, using computers – these are among the visual tasks that a student will perform daily. When vision is not functioning properly, education obviously suffers.

Vision can change frequently during the school years, so it is important to have regular checkups so that corrections can be made before educational performance suffers.

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Signs of Eye and Vision Problems
Signs that may indicate a child has vision problem include:
• Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
• Short attention span
• Avoiding reading and other close activities
• Frequent headaches
• Covering one eye
• Tilting the head to one side
• Holding reading materials close to the face
• An eye turning in or out
• Seeing double
• Losing place when reading
• Difficulty remembering what he or she read

When is a Vision Exam Needed?
Your child should receive an eye examination at least once every two years – but more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist, or if recommended by your eye doctor. Many schools do a vision screening for their students, however most only test for distance visual acuity. Keep in mind that there are other types of vision and eye health problems besides nearsightedness.

Parents should also look for these problems related to overall eye health:
• Eyes that are misaligned (look crossed, turn out, or don't focus together)
• White or grayish-white color in the pupil
• Eyes that flutter quickly from side to side or up and down
• Bulging eye(s)
• Child often complains of eye pain, itchiness, or discomfort
• Redness in either eye that doesn't go away in a few days
• Pus or crust in either eye
• Eyes that are always watery
• Drooping eyelid(s)
• Child rubs or squints eyes often
• Eyes that are always sensitive to light
• Any change in the eyes from how they usually look

Insurance and Vision Services
The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, requires that insurance plans offer pediatric services that includes vision screenings. So don’t delay! No child deserves to miss out on opportunities to learn and grow because they need a pair of glasses!

American Optometric Association