One in four children deals with a vision impairment that impacts his or her ability to learn, according to eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness. Many of these cases are undiagnosed, and failing to identify and treat poor vision health early can lead to difficulties in the classroom, on the playing field and beyond.
One of the most prevalent vision issues in children is myopia, or nearsightedness. The condition causes close-up objects to appear clear, but everything becomes blurry and out of focus at a distance.
"Parents have invested billions this year to prepare their children for school, but without the ability to see their best, children will be at a disadvantage in the classroom," said Dr. Millicent Knight, senior vice president of Essilor's Customer Development Group.
Although some schools perform yearly vision screenings, those evaluations aren't always enough to identify vision issues. Parents can take a proactive role in their child's vision health with these tips from the experts at Essilor.
Watch for the Symptoms of Myopia
Many kids believe blurry vision is normal because they've never known anything different. As a parent, being able to spot the signs is key to managing symptoms and potentially slowing progression, if caught early enough. Keep an eye out for these symptoms:
- Squinting to see distant objects, like the board in the classroom
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Holding books close when reading
- Experiencing eyestrain or headaches
Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam
One of the most effective ways to keep your child's eyes healthy is to schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam with an eyecare professional. Not only will a doctor check for vision problems that could interfere with school performance and potentially affect safety, he or she can offer advanced lens technology that keeps pace with the changing needs of children's eye health. Just like annual doctor visits, eye exams should be scheduled once a year as part of your child's health routine.
"We've seen a huge change in children who couldn't see and when they are given glasses they light up because the world is clearer," said Dr. Ryan Parker, O.D., director of professional development at Essilor of America.
"Today, children's eyes are exposed to harmful blue light, ultraviolet light (UV) and digital eyestrain like never before," Parker said.
While technology is crucial for learning in today's digital world, research suggests too much screen time may put kids at risk of developing myopia as well as digital eyestrain, resulting in tired eyes, headaches, itchy eyes, blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light. To help reduce eyestrain, have children take periodic breaks from their devices and head outdoors.
Know Where to Go for Help
"Parents also need to know that where you go matters as much as when you go," Knight said.
Choosing eyecare professionals, like the network of local, independent Essilor Experts, who prioritize the most advanced lens technologies and are dedicated to their patients' individual needs, can make a difference in the vision outcomes for your children.
Find more information and schedule a professional comprehensive eye exam at essilorusa.com/your-vision.