Back-to-School Basics Should Include Vision Testing

Armen Hareyan's picture

Most vision problems can be corrected if caught early enough so parents should make sure that vision testing is a part of a child's regular check up.

Back to school is a busy and exciting time for children and, as they make the adjustment from bathing suits to blackboards, it's important for parents to keep an eye on their vision.

Most vision problems can be corrected if caught early enough so parents should make sure that vision testing is a part of a child's regular check-up. Children learn to see properly during the first few years of life. If a serious eye problem occurs early on in a child's development and is left untreated, the visual system never will learn to see correctly and vision may be lost permanently. In fact, many experts believe that between 4 and 5 percent of children under the age of 12 develop serious eye problems.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the first vision screening occur in the hospital as part of a newborn baby's discharge examination. Visual function (including ocular alignment) also should be checked by the pediatrician or family physician during routine well-child exams. Children should be screened for decreased vision and eye misalignment at three years of age and then yearly after school age.

If you suspect your child is suffering from decreased vision, eye misalignment, or if there are hereditary factors that might predispose your child to eye disease, you should contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. New techniques make it possible to test vision in infants and young children. If you have a family history of misaligned eyes, childhood cataracts or a serious eye disease, an ophthalmologist should begin checking your child's vision and eye health at a very early age.

Parents who have questions or who would like to make an appointment for their child to have a vision test may contact the U-M Kellogg Eye Center Pediatric Ophthalmology Department at 734-764-7558 in Ann Arbor; 810-227-2357 in Brighton; 734-844-5400 in Canton; or 734-434-2810 in Ypsilanti.

Fun Eye Facts for Kids

How many times do your eyes blink?
The average person blinks about 12 times a minute. That's an amazing 10,080 blinks in a kid's day (14 waking hours) and about 3.7 million blinks per year. And, each of these blinks of the eye lasts about one tenth of a second.


How far can an eagle see?
An eagle can spot a rabbit from about one mile or 1,760 yards away. However, the average person needs to be closer, about 550 yards away, to see the same rabbit.

Does color blindness mean you only see in black and white?
Not exactly. People who are color deficient just can't see things in as many colors as people who have normal color vision, and they cannot see certain colors like red, green, or some shades of blue. Not all color-blind people see colors the same way, either.

If bats are blind, how do they "see" where they are flying?
It is a common misconception that bats are blind. Almost all bats can see, and their sense of sight and smell is well developed, but these bats don't use their eyes to "see" where they're flying. They, instead, use sound waves. They make high-pitched sounds and then listen for the echoes caused when the sounds bounce off an object.

How big is the human eyeball?
The adult eyeball measures about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Of its total surface area, only one-sixth is exposed " the front portion. It is composed of more than two million working parts and is the most complex organ you possess except for your brain.

What's the difference between being nearsighted and farsighted?
People who are nearsighted can see well up close but struggle to see things from a distance. People who are farsighted, however, are just the opposite. They can see things that are far away but have trouble seeing things up close.


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