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is a back-to-school eye exam necessary

Children’s eyes are amazingly adaptive. Children can have serious vision issues that remain unchecked during their toddler and early childhood years because it seems as if they can see just fine. However, scheduling annual eye exams with your optometrist is the only way to know for sure whether your child can see as well as you think.

Benefits Of Back-To-School Eye Exams

Scheduling back-to-school eye exams are a good way to ensure routine vision checks happen yearly. The sooner you identify any potential vision issues, the better your child will be able to learn and perform their best in school. 

Here are some of the benefits of scheduling a back-to-school eye exam:

Discover whether your child is near or farsighted

Children can hide their vision issues well because they don’t know the difference. Unlike adults, who can tell when the world around them grows blurrier, babies with vision loss develop into toddlers and young children with vision loss – only they are incredible adaptors. While significant vision loss is typically noticeable, the kind of vision loss that affects reading, writing, or seeing whiteboard or computer screen details can remain hidden without a proper eye exam.

And, because eyes continually change, an “all clear” one year doesn’t mean your child hasn’t developed nearsightedness or farsightedness since their last exam. Astigmatism is another common cause of blurred vision that doesn’t always reveal itself until later in childhood.

Give them a strong start with reading

If your child struggles to see the page or screen, they’re more likely to struggle when it’s time to read. Shapes in a video game require far less focus than the fine print used for text. If the words are blurry or, the characters seem to move or wiggle (a common sensation with certain types of vision loss), reading is a struggle. 

That sets them up for negative associations such as “I’m not as smart as the other kids” or, “I hate reading,” when in fact, a single pair of glasses with an accurate prescription can change their entire experience.

Prevent eye strain with a back-to-school eye exam

Eye strain is never fun at any age, but children are particularly affected. Children experiencing chronic eye strain due to unaddressed vision or eye issues are more prone to headaches, fatigue, and crankiness. During your child’s eye exam, we’ll address:

  • Signs and symptoms of eye strain (watery eyes, excessive blinking or winking, headaches, complaints that their eyes hurt, constantly rubbing their eyes, etc.)
  • The amount of time they spend on screens (too much screen time is a cause of eye strain
  • Tips to avoid eye strain

Children are often far more willing to listen to the warnings and advice of a doctor than their parents, so let us support your rules around the TV, screen time, and well-lit reading areas. 

Catch undiagnosed or unaddressed eye issues

During your back-to-school eye exam, we may catch eye issues that have gone undetected by their physician, such as:

Lazy eyes and crossed eyes are highly correctible in the younger years but may become permanent if they aren’t addressed early enough. While color blindness isn’t correctible, it’s essential that your child’s preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers know your student is color blind so they can support that during art, crafts, or school assignments that rely on color-coded or matched elements.

Keep eyeglass prescriptions current

As mentioned before, our eyes change from birth until the day we die. Some people can go years without a change in their glasses prescriptions, while others may have a new prescription every year. Without annual eye exams, you won’t know which category your child falls into. 

All health insurance plans provide one free set of glasses per child per year. So, in almost all cases, ordering a new set of glasses (if necessary) won’t cost you anything but gifts your child with 20/20 vision.

Keep behavior issues in check

The large majority of behavior issues in children are rooted in a few basic causes, one of which is boredom. A child who cannot see well is far more prone to acting out in class. A child who can’t see clearly is far more likely to:

  • Lose focus quickly
  • Not pay attention 
  • Distract others
  • Refuse to do class/homework or turn in incomplete assignments
  • Display as if hyperactive (fidgeting, moving around, getting up and down)

This makes sense, right? Teachers use visual information constantly, but if a child can’t see clearly, or continually experiences eye strain when they try to pay attention, visual tools actually detract from their learning experience. 

Unfortunately, the more your child associates with those behaviors or a negative attention cycle, the harder it will be to correct them even when they have an accurate glasses prescription. As with any medical issue – optometric or otherwise, early detection is always best. 

Improve academic performance

Along those same lines, recent studies point out an undeniable relationship between vision and academic performance. In a 2020 issue of the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health, researchers concluded:

Children with bad academic performance had worse visual health than those with good academic performance…It would be highly recommendable to introduce policies that ensure the early detection of visual disorders in schools and primary care in order to improve the academic performance of elementary students.

While many schools offer rudimentary vision checks, they are nothing like a complete pediatric eye and vision exam. 

Schedule Your Child’s Back-To-School Eye Exam Today

Do your child(ren) a favor and schedule their back-to-school eye exam today. The ability to see things clearly sets them up for academic and social-emotional success. The team at Atlantic Eye Institute looks forward to welcoming your family through our doors.

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