Posted August 25, 2011
Recognizing Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, August 2011
As the calendar changes from August to September, we’re reminded that it is back-to-school season! Many kids across the country have already broken in their new schoolbooks, supplies and clothes, while others are gearing up for their new learning experiences.
Assess Kids’ Vision
This is a perfect time for parents to take a few minutes to assess their kids’ vision needs. Do your kids exhibit any of these warning signs?
- Struggles to see objects at a distance
- Complains of problems reading the blackboard
- Squints when viewing things at a distance
- Demonstrates reading difficulties
- Sits too close to the TV
- Holds a book or magazine close to their face when reading
According to the National Parent Teacher Association, vision problems are the fourth most common disability and prevalent handicapping condition during childhood. Consider these statistics:
- One-third of American schoolchildren have never been to an eye doctor, reports the American Optometric Association
- Only 32 states require school-age kids to participate in vision screening tests; many pass with 20/20 vision, but those who do not meet the mark often do not receive follow-up care; 29 states do not require retesting or referrals to eye doctors
- More than 60 percent of students with learning problems have undiagnosed vision problems or abnormalities contributing to their difficulties
- More than 50 percent of American parents do not know that behavioral problems can indicate a child’s vision impairment issues, and in some cases literacy may be linked to vision problems
Avoid Sports-Related Eye Injuries
Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of sports-related eye injuries happen to those younger than 25, while approximately 43 percent occur in children younger than 15, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable through use of appropriate protective eyewear.
Regular eyeglasses and sunglasses are not enough. They aren’t strong enough to withstand hard blows or fast-flying objects. Here are several tips for choosing the right eyewear to protect your child’s vision:
- If your child wears prescription eyeglasses, ask your eye doctor to fit your child with prescription eye guards similar to safety glasses
- Polycarbonate lenses are the most impact resistant
- Look for eye guards with an anti-fog coating or side vents to prevent fogging
- Choose wraparound frames to help protect the eyes from all sides
- Make sure protective eyewear fits properly; adjust the strap to accommodate growth
- Check the fit at least once a year, more often if your child has a growth spurt
- Have your child try on different types of eyewear to determine the best option
- Each sport has specific requirements for eye protection; make sure the style selected has been tested for use in your child’s sport
This school year, take time to schedule an eye exam for your children to ensure they have an optimum learning experience. And if they are involved in sports activities, invest in proper eyewear to protect their eyes and vision.
What steps do you take to provide the best visual learning experience for your student(s)? – Ken VanCleave, Ameritas Group