Is making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam for your children on your back-to-school checklist? It needs to be.
No amount of new clothes, backpacks or supplies will help your child succeed in school if they have an undetected vision problem.
The difference between eye exams and vision screenings
An annual exam done by an eye doctor is more focused than a visual screening done at school. School screenings are simply "pass-fail tests" that are often limited to measuring a child’s sight clarity and visual acuity up to a distance of 20 feet. But this can provide a false sense of security.
There are important differences between a screening and a comprehensive eye exam.
Where a screening tests only for visual acuity, comprehensive exams will test for acuity, chronic diseases, color vision and eye tracking. This means a child may pass a vision screening at school because they are able to see the board, but they may not be able to see the words in the textbook in front of them.
Why back-to-school eye exams matter
Did you know that 1 out of 4 children has an undiagnosed vision problem because changes in their eyesight go unrecognized?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common condition in children and often develops around the ages of 6 or 7. And nearsightedness can change very quickly, especially between the ages of 11 and 13, which means that an eye prescription can change rapidly over a short period of time. That’s why annual checkups are important.
Comprehensive eye exams can detect other eye conditions. Some children may have good distance vision but may struggle when reading up close. This is known as hyperopia or farsightedness. Other eye issues such as strabismus (misaligned eyes), astigmatism or amblyopia (lazy eye) are also detectable.
Kids may not tell you they're having visions issues because they might not even realize it. They may simply think everyone sees the same way they do. Kids often give indirect clues, such as holding books or device screens close to their face, having problems recalling what they've read, or avoiding reading altogether. Other signs could include a short attention span, frequent headaches, seeing double, rubbing their eyes or tilting their head to the side.
What to expect at your child's eye exam
Before the exam, explain that eye exams aren’t scary, and can be fun. A kid-friendly eye exam is quick for your child. After the doctor tests how she sees colors and letters using charts with pictures, shapes, and patterns, we will give you our assessment of your child’s eyes.
If your child needs to wear glasses, we can even recommend frames and lenses best for their needs.
Set your child up for success
Staying consistent with eye exams is important because it can help your kids see their best in the classroom and when playing sports. Better vision can also mean better confidence because they are able to see well.
Because learning is so visual, making an eye examination a priority every year is an important investment you can make in your child's education. You should also be aware that your health insurance might cover pediatric eye exams.
Set your child up for success and schedule an exam today!