School is just around the corner. You’ve bought pencils, notebooks, backpacks and lunchboxes. You do all this because you want to set your kids up for success, so what are you missing? Have they had their annual eye exam? 80 percent of information children receive in the classroom is presented visually. This means that having healthy vision is very important for successful learning. In fact, many children who experience learning difficulties have a vision problem and can do better in school when the problem is fixed.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month and Eye Exam Month. This is the perfect time to check the whole family’s vision.

Detecting Vision Problems

All children should have annual eye exams with a licensed eye doctor (an optometrist or ophthalmologist) to maintain good eye health. During these exams, eye care professionals can detect vision problems small and large. However, there are also many warning signs of visual problems that parents should watch for at home that may indicate a child needs an eye exam sooner rather than later.

First, do you notice your children squinting or tilting their head when watching TV, reading or engaging in another visual activity? Perhaps they also bring books and screens abnormally close to their face. Other signs include sensitivity to light and complaining about associated headaches and nausea. If a child displays these or similar warning signs, take them to an eye care professional as soon as possible to diagnose and resolve vision problems. Early detection is crucial to successful treatment.

How to Prepare?

Once you’ve called your eye doctor’s office and scheduled an appointment, it’s time to prepare. By preparing for an eye exam, you can make the most of your experience.

    • List recent vision problems.
    • Prepare any vision questions you have. (Note: Don’t be afraid to ask questions or clarification during your exam.)
    • Keep track of current prescriptions, drugs and general health.
    • Find out your family eye history (especially glaucoma and cataracts).
    • Bring necessary health insurance information.

Benefits of Exam

Although vision changes in yourself or children may sometimes be obvious, often they are subtle. By going in for an annual eye exam with a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist, these changes can be detected and corrected. It also should be noted that a vision screening is not the same as an eye exam. Vision screenings are quick and usually run by volunteers and only detect major vision problems. An eye exam, on the other hand, is comprehensive and performed by an eye doctor in a clinic with training and proper diagnostic and treatment tools.

Remember that children’s eye exams are part of pediatric services and are included in your ten essential health benefits. Start the school year off right with healthy vision.

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