Children’s Eye Health – Vital to Learning
Children are getting ready to go back to school, so it is fitting that August is National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. It’s a great time to get a comprehensive eye exam for school-age children.
Why is an eye exam so important? In the United States, 1 in 4 children have an undiagnosed eye problem. Nearly 80% of school learning is accomplished through eyesight, so any deficit in a child’s vision can be problematic for their learning. Research found that 60% of children with a learning disability had an undiagnosed vision problem. Eye exams make a difference.
Children spend a lot of time these days looking at screens – computer screens, iPads and phones. Eye doctors strongly recommend that children take a break from their screens every 20 minutes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges you to get your kids outdoors, where their eyes will get some exercise too. Staring at screens for long periods of time can weaken eye muscles used for seeing at a distance. This in turn may lead to your child developing myopia – nearsightedness. When outdoors, be sure kids are wearing sunglasses with UV protection.
It is not always easy to know that your child is having vision problems. Here are a few of the more common signs that your child may be having difficulties seeing:
- Tilting head or squinting
- Eye rubbing when trying to concentrate
- Holding a book too close
- Consistently using fingers to guide eyes when reading
- Closing one eye to read or watch TV
Whether your child will be learning remotely or back in the classroom, screens will undoubtedly be a part of their day. To help keep their eyes healthy, be sure the screen is 18-24 inches from where the child is sitting. The light source should be coming from behind the child’s back.
If you know a child experiencing vision loss, Society for the Blind is here to assist. Our Low Vision Clinic serves pediatric patients, including offering occupational therapy so your child can use their eyesight most effectively.
We also have our educational and recreational program, CareersPLUS, for elementary through high-school age youth. This program includes an After-School Academy for children with vision loss, including assistance with their homework and teaching them how to use assistive devices and technology. Workshops and seminars offer opportunities for the children, their parents and family members to learn and grow together.