Early Eye Problem Detection Can Help Kids in the Classroom

Prevent Blindness, is issuing is declaring August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month.

child-89208_640Officials with the Ohio affiliate of Prevent Blindness notes, the goal is to educate the public on the importance of healthy vision for kids.

The organization is encouraging parents and caregivers to set their child on a path to success in the classroom with a certified vision screening or eye exam.

According to statistics, more than one in 20 preschool-age children and one in four school-age children have a vision disorder. This is explained in a National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (NCCVEH) comprehensive report; ‘Children’s Vision and Eye Health: A Snapshot of Current National Issues.’

Several potential impacts poor vision may have on a child’s learning listed within the report include:

  • Visual functioning is a strong predictor of academic performance in school-age children.
  • Uncorrected refractive errors in infants and preschool-age children are associated with developmental delays, as well as with clinically identified deficits in cognitive and visual-motor functions that may, in turn, affect school readiness.
  • Vision disorders of childhood may continue to affect health and well-being throughout the adult years.

This information has motivated the organization to use the weeks leading up to the first day of school as an opportunity to spread awareness.

Noted in the press release, “All children, even those with no signs of trouble, should have their eyes checked at regular intervals. Any child who experiences vision problems or shows symptoms of eye trouble should receive a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.”

Officials add that vision issues can be hard to detect as children generally do not complain about vison problems. However, problems could still exist and can range from common refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness to serious eye conditions including:

Children generally do not complain about problems with their vision. These problems may range from common refractive errors, such as nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia), to serious eye conditions including:

Amblyopia or “lazy eye” – has many causes. Most often, it results from either a misalignment of a child’s eyes, such as crossed eyes or a difference in image quality between the two eyes (one eye focusing better than the other). In both cases, one eye becomes stronger, suppressing the image of the other eye. If this condition persists, vision from the weaker eye may become useless. Amblyopia is found in about 2 percent of 6- to 72-month-old children and is the most common cause of vision loss in children.

Strabismus or “crossed eyes” – a condition where eyes are misaligned or do not line up with each other.  This problem is caused when the muscles do not work together. Between 2 and 4 percent of children under the age of 6 years have strabismus. Strabismus may eventually lead to amblyopia.

Astigmatism – an irregularity in the shape of the cornea or lens that causes blurry vision at all distances if not corrected. Between 15 and 28 percent of children ages, 5 to 17 years have astigmatism, depending on the diagnostic threshold used. Children who have myopia or hyperopia are more likely to have astigmatism.

“The good news is that many vision problems in children can be treated successfully if detected early,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate.  “Prevent Blindness provides free information on a variety of vision health topics for kids, and partners on many fantastic programs that provide free exams and glasses for those who qualify.  We encourage the public to contact us for more details on ways to keep children’s eyes healthy.”

Michaela Madison Reporting

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