The school year is about to begin. Have you had your child’s eyes tested?
According to Prevent Blindness America (PBA), more than 12 million school-age children, or one in every four, have some form of vision impairment.
“Your child may have a vision problem that you are unaware of — because kids learn to compensate, especially if the problem only affects one eye,” says Daniel D. Garrett, PBA spokesperson. PBA urges parents to start taking children for vision tests at age 3 or 4, and continuing throughout their school years.
Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a sight-threatening problem for children. This can lead to monocular blindness if left untreated. Any condition that causes the brain to receive images of unequal quality in the two eyes (such as when one eye focuses better than the other) can result in amblyopia. Strabismus, also referred to as crossed or misaligned eyes, affects one in 50 children in the U.S. If not properly treated and corrected, this, too, can lead to amblyopia.
The earlier these conditions are detected and treated, the better the results. If diagnosed after the age of 6 or 7, they become harder to treat, because by this age, the eyes are fully developed.
PBA advises parents to watch for these warning signs. The child … · Rubs eyes a lot · Closes or covers one eye · Tilts head or thrusts head forward · Has trouble reading or doing other close-up work, or holds objects close to eyes to see · Blinks more than usual or seems cranky when doing close-up work · Things are blurry or hard to see · Squints eyes or frowns
The child may also say … · ‘My eyes are itchy,’ ‘My eyes are burning,’ or ‘My eyes feel scratchy’ · ‘I can’t see that well’ · After doing close-up work, ‘I feel dizzy,’ ‘I have a headache,’ or ‘I feel sick/nauseous’ · ‘Everything looks blurry’ or ‘I see double’
PBA is offering the following free brochures: Amblyopia, Strabismus and Your Child’s Sight in English and Spanish. For more information, call 1-800-331-2020 or visit www.preventblindness.org.