With school starting back soon, it is important to make sure your children, younger siblings and their friends are all in good health. Back to school time can be overwhelming between orientation forms, schedules and immunizations but it's important to make sure their eyes are also checked.
August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month, bringing forth education and awareness to the health and safety of children's eyes. This initiative is in connection with the American Academy of Ophthalmologists and Prevent Blindness America.
Routine vision screenings are crucial in preventing long-term vision problems. In the United States, some form of vision screening is mandated for children in 40 states with Virginia mandating screenings for specific school aged children. It is recommended that exams be conducted during regular pediatric appointments and vision testing should begin around the age of three. A family history of childhood vision problems, disinterest in reading and squinting or turning the head while watching television may be some signs that the child has a vision problem.
Some of the more common vision problems found in children are:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)
- Color blindness
- Refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism)
The most common of these problems is astigmatism affecting 15-28% of children ages 5 to 17 years, according to the Children's Vision and Eye Health report.
Safety is also a key factor in keeping a child's eyes in top condition. Eye injuries are one of the leading causes of vision loss. In order to prevent unintentional injuries, children should wear eye protection in certain sports; parents should keep harsh chemicals out of reach of small children and practice safe care and supervision when children are handling objects like scissors, pencils or rubber bands. Also practicing safe eye care your self will reinforce how important it is to keep your eyes safe! For more information on how to keep your child's eyes healthy and safe, check out the following websites:
Information provided by Sarah Conyers, student intern with Community Outreach at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN, relating to the information in this article or with questions/comments/concerns, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.