Back to School – Parents Should Screen Their Children for Vision Risks

Schools have either just opened for the 2015-2016 school year or are starting soon. During this back to school season parents are encouraged to screen their children for vision risks.

“Vision plays an extremely important role in childhood development; academically, socially and athletically,” says Kara M. Cavuoto, M.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

School health programs across the country offer vision screening.   Screening examinations at school or at the doctor’s office are important, since children may not realize they have a vision problem.

Below is a checklist of signs to look for that may indicate if a child has a problem affecting their vision:

Does your child seem to have difficulty seeing objects that you or others see?
Does your child hold objects very close to the face?
Does your child have frequent headaches?
Is there an unusual appearance to the eyes?
Is there frequent blinking or eye rubbing?
Is there swelling or redness in one or both eyes?
Is there unusual sensitivity to light?
Does your child close or cover one eye?
Do one or both eyelids droop or does one eyelid tend to close?
Is the iris (colored part of the eye) different in color in the two eyes?
Do the eyes tend to “dance” or show to-and-fro movements (nystagmus)?
Do the eyes appear to turn in, out, up or down or tend to intermittently drift off center?
Is there a head tilt or turn, particularly when concentrating on objects at a distance or near?
Does your child complain of seeing double?
Does your child lose his or her place when reading?

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Four common vision and eye disorders in school-age children include:

1. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the most common vision problem in children, often developing between ages six and adolescence. With this condition, the child’s distance vision is impaired, making the blackboard or teacher at the front of the room seem blurry.

2. Hyperopia, or farsightedness, may cause headache, blurred vision or crossing of the eyes.

3. Amblyopia,  which literally means “dullness of vision,” refers to a reduction in vision in one, or occasionally, both eyes.  Amblyopia is commonly caused by refractive error (hyperopia, myopia or astigmatism).  Amblyopia is usually treated with glasses, patching or eye drops.

4. Strabismus is another common eye disorder that refers to eyes that are misaligned by turning in, out, up or down. Treatment of strabismus may include eye exercises, glasses, patching, eye drops, or occasionally, surgery.

Parents should keep vision in mind when equipping their children with all the necessary tools for a successful school year.  If there is a family history of significant pediatric eye or vision disorders or a potential eye or vision problem is detected during a screening examination, the child is usually referred for a comprehensive eye examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist or an eye care specialist appropriately trained to evaluate and treat pediatric patients.

If you believe your child has a vision problem set up an appointment with your child’s doctor right away.

This article is sponsored by the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

About Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, is ranked the best eye hospital in the nation, as published in U.S. News & World Report. The Institute demonstrates exceptional expertise in every ophthalmic subspecialty treats more than 250,000 patients and performs more than 12,000 surgeries annually. Bascom Palmer has patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation, Florida.

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