Help ensure a successful school year for kids

Help ensure a successful school year for kids

Back-to-school eye examinations should be as elementary for parents as buying their children new clothes, shoes and supplies. And doctors of optometry can use an annual public awareness campaign to spread that message.

AOA's 2016 Ready for School campaign has officially kicked off. Campaign materials, including localizable news releases, social media messages and infographics, are available as an exclusive member benefit for doctors to use in their practices and communities.

"While schools typically offer basic vision screenings, a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to detect serious eye health issues."

Last year's record-breaking campaign reached a 36 percent bigger audience.

One in four children in this country has undiagnosed vision problems. Healthy eyes and good vision play a critical role in child development.

"Doctors of optometry are uniquely qualified to provide the eye and vision care that enables students to excel in school," says Andrea P. Thau, O.D., AOA president.

Message to parents: There is no substitute for a comprehensive exam

With the start of school around the corner, Katherine Shen, O.D., who practices in Kirkland, Washington, is seeing more and more children in her practice.

"We always like to get a full cyclopentolate dilation just to make sure the young ones are not carrying any latent hyperopia or misdiagnosed pseudomyopia," Dr. Shen says. "I also like to check their refractive state for both distance and near using distance acuity charts and MEM (monocular estimate method) cards."

She adds, "During the annual visit, stereo vision is always assessed as well as near point convergence. If anything looks suspicious, we have the kids return for a full binocular work up. Our techs are also trained to get a thorough case history regarding overall health development since birth plus questions about visual stress. In addition, we have a meibography machine (which assesses for oil flow from the Meibomian glands) and retinal imaging in our office. If the kids are old enough to sit for those tests, we will also review them."

Dr. Shen also takes the opportunity to talk to parents about what to watch for to prevent myopia or other vision-related learning disorders before their young children start school. And she informs them that there is no substitute for comprehensive eye exams.

"It can prevent these children from having self-esteem issues or behavior concerns during the school year," she says. "I educate parents here and the parents in the baby class that I speak with quarterly about the difference between screenings and comprehensive exams. In the state of Washington, only distance acuity is currently necessary for screenings."

Says Dr. Thau: "Making a comprehensive eye exam a priority this year is one of the single-most important investments parents can make to their child's education and overall health. While schools typically offer basic vision screenings, a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to detect serious eye health issues."

Building off the success of the Ready for School campaign, the AOA will roll out its next national campaign, regarding contact lenses, in October.

August 17, 2016

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