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Back-To-School: Why [Eye_Exams] Are More Important Than Ever

Since the onset of COVID-19, many children have been learning remotely through distance learning programs. While parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically, eye doctors are concerned that undiagnosed vision problems may impact the child’s school performance.

Undetected vision problems may hinder a child’s ability to learn. That’s why eye doctors strongly recommend that children undergo a thorough eye exam before the new school year begins.

While it’s tempting to rely on vision screenings provided by schools, these superficial visual acuity tests can identify only a limited number of eyesight problems. Only a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and address a wide range of problems related to vision and eye health. 

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Up to 80% of children’s learning is visual, so even the slightest vision problem can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Taking a child in for an eye exam once a year will allow your eye doctor to detect and correct refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, and check their visual skills, such as convergence insufficiency, binocular vision, focusing and more.

Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to detect mild and serious eye health conditions. Routine eye exams are especially important for children with a family history of eye health problems.  

How Is Vision Affected By Online Learning?

The amount of time children spend looking at digital screens was already a concern in the pre-pandemic era—but the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. According to the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, children spent twice as much time on screens during COVID-related closures than they did prior to the pandemic.

For one thing, spending prolonged periods of time on digital devices forces the eyes to work harder, making children (and adults) more susceptible to digital eye strain, one of the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome. People who spend 2 or more consecutive hours staring at a screen are at higher risk of developing this condition. 

Some computer vision syndrome symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms can be caused by a combination of the following factors:

  • Glare and reflections from the screen
  • Excessive time looking at a screen
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor posture
  • Screen brightness
  • Undetected vision problems 

In addition to digital eye strain, several studies have found that children who spend many hours indoors doing “near work” — writing, reading and looking at computers and other digital devices — have a higher rate of myopia progression. 

A study published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s professional journal, Ophthalmology, found that first-graders who spent at least 11 hours per week playing outside in the sunshine experienced slower myopia progression. Some researchers think that exposure to sunlight and looking at distant objects while playing outdoors might help decrease myopia progression.   

While regular eye exams are essential for every member of the family, they’re especially important for those who spend a good portion of their day in front of a screen. 

Don’t put off your child’s annual eye exam. Schedule an appointment with Switalski Eye Care in Plano today!

 

Q&A

1. At what age should a child have an eye exam?

According to the American and Canadian Optometric Associations, it’s recommended for a child to have their first eye exam between 6-12 months of age.

Before a child starts school, they should undergo an eye exam, and every one to two years after that, based on their eye doctor‘s recommendation.

2. Does my child need an eye exam if they passed the school vision screening?

Yes! School vision screenings are superficial eye evaluations designed to diagnose a limited number of vision problems like myopia. They do not check for visual skills and other problems that may hinder your child’s academic success.

Your eye doctor will evaluate your child’s vision and eye health, along with visual abilities, including depth perception and eye tracking, to let you know whether your child’s eyes are “school-ready.”

 

Does Your Child Really Have Vision Issues?

Pediatric Eye Exam in Plano

Pediatric Eye Exam in Plano

Most kids don’t suspect that something is wrong with their eyesight and are thus unlikely to seek help with their vision. If you witness your child tilting his or her head too often, frequently squinting, or holding books or other objects unusually close or far away from his or her eyes, it may be time for an eye exam.

Book an appointment with Dr. Switalski at Switalski Eye Care today. We will provide a comprehensive eye exam that will detect whether your child has any vision aberrations.

It’s up to parents to recognize the signs of compromised eyesight and to take the necessary precautions against it. Read on to learn the basics of keeping your children’s vision sharp and healthy.

Why Are Vision Screenings Not Enough?

School or pediatric vision screenings often offer superficial eye exams that cannot detect underlying vision issues that get in the way of your child’s success in school and life. In fact, it is estimated that up to 10 million kids suffer from vision issues, despite having passed a school vision screening. Therefore, it is critical to have your child’s eyes examined by an eye doctor in order to assess their overall eye health. The earlier they do it, the better.

Does Your Child Really Hate to Read?

If your child dislikes or avoids reading, it might indicate a vision problem.

Does your child…

  • Use a finger or pencil to guide the eyes while reading?
  • Incessantly rub his or her eyes?
  • Cover one eye while reading?
  • Frequently tilt his or her head?

Reading with undiagnosed vision problems can result in headaches, fatigue and eye strain, which could explain why your child shies away from engaging in this activity.

Should your child need glasses for vision correction, Switalski Eye Care has a wide variety of age-appropriate options, made of comfortable, durable, and kid-friendly materials.

Should Eye Exams be on the Back-to-School To-Do List?

By the age of 6, every child should have undergone three eye exams. Make sure to prioritize eye exams by adding it to the back-to-school to-do list. No matter how wonderful the pencils and markers are, if the vision isn’t there, your child will struggle through school, sports, and in life.

Is it Clumsiness or a Vision Problem?

If your child frequently bumps into desks, knocks things over, and trips, it may not be just clumsiness. Contact Switalski Eye Care for an eye exam today.

Spending Too Much Time on Computer/Digital Screens?

Too Much Screen Time is Linked To Myopia

The use of digital devices is on the rise, and so is myopia (nearsightedness).

Research has shown that prolonged use of computers and digital devices among children can result in myopia. Focusing on images or words on the screen for extended periods of time can result in eye strain, and over time, can even change the shape of a child’s eye. As a parent, we recommend you limit your child’s computer or phone screen time and incorporate the 20/20/20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds).

Blue Light Blocking Glasses or Lenses for Digital Screens

Another problem with using digital devices has to do with the blue light these devices emit. Smartphones expose us to the most blue light, since we hold them very close to our eyes. Long hours of blue light exposure can harm the eyes and disrupt sleep quality.

However, the harm caused by blue light can be reduced by wearing special Blue Light lenses.

At Switalski Eye Care, we offer blue light filters for lenses, which block blue light from reaching one’s eyes and protect your vision when using digital devices. Ask us about adding blue-light filters to your or your child’s glasses, or about getting a full pair of blue light eyeglasses.

Why Opt for Polycarbonate Lenses?

When it comes to kids, the lenses you pick a matter. Switalski Eye Care recommends opting for polycarbonate lenses when buying glasses. They are more lightweight, impact-resistant and scratch-resistant than traditional plastic lenses. Furthermore, the UV protection can protect your child’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

If you want your kids to ace their classes this year, remember to prioritize a visit to the eye doctor as part of your back-to-school checklist.

Prepare for Back to School with Blue Light Glasses | Switalski Eye Care

Comprehensive Pediatric Eye Exams

At Switalski Eye Care, we offer comprehensive pediatric eye exams, as well as a wide array of glasses and lenses for our young patients. Switalski Eye Care serves patients from in and around Plano in the state of Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My child saw 20/20 at their school physical. That’s perfect vision for back to school, right?

  • A: Maybe! 20/20 only tells us what size letter can be seen 20 feet away. People with significant farsightedness or eye muscle imbalances may see 20/20, but experience enough visual strain to make reading difficult. Vision controls eighty percent of learning so include a thorough eye exam in your child’s Back-to-School list.

Q: My child passed the screening test at school, isn’t that enough?

  • A: Distance and reading are two different things. Someone with perfect distance vision can still have focusing problems up close. Doctors need to check for both, many children have undiagnosed accommodative (focusing) problems because no one ever looked for it before. We always check the distance and near vision on all ages because it is so important. Other areas that need to be checked is eye muscle alignment, color vision, depth perception, and overall health of the eyes.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Switalski Eye Care for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.