School days: Time for comprehensive eye exams
For kids around the country, it's back-to-school time. Increasingly, this means loading up backpacks with electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Comprehensive eye exams are one of the most important investments a parent can make.
AOA's Back-to-School public relations campaign focuses on these electronic devices-and the eye health issues that may come with them. The campaign is geared toward educating parents about the importance of comprehensive eye exams.
These exams are especially important in an era when smartphones and tablets are evolving from a trend to a necessity in school. Children of all ages may face visual challenges, including a temporary condition called computer vision syndrome.
"When children stare at screens for hours each day, it may cause visual discomfort that can interfere with their ability to focus and learn," says AOA spokesperson Kimberly Friedman, O.D. "As a mom and an eye doctor, I know first-hand just how important it is for school-age children to receive comprehensive eye examinations prior to heading back into a classroom."
Why comprehensive exams matter
As children become more frequent users of technology, eye doctors should warn parents about the signs or symptoms of CVS or undiagnosed vision problems that indicate the need for an eye exam. The AOA warns that one in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem simply because they may not recognize that their eyesight isn't optimal or is changing.
"Comprehensive eye exams are one of the most important investments a parent can make to help maximize their child's education and contribute to overall health and well-being, especially since some vision problems may not have warning signs," Dr. Friedman adds. "Unfortunately, parents and educators often incorrectly assume that if a child passes a school screening, their vision is fine."
Beginning in 2014, pediatric vision care will be one of the Affordable Care Act's Essential Health Benefits. This means millions of children will gain direct access to local optometrists for comprehensive eye exams and treatment, including medical eye care, through health insurance.
Steps optometrists should take
To take part in the Back-to-School campaign and help educate parents on the importance of comprehensive eye exams, the AOA encourages members to:
- Customize the Back-to-School news release for use in their communities;
- Share the fun, fact-filled "A-B-Sees" infographic, with tips on how to monitor for computer vision syndrome; and
- Review and share AOA resources such as Preschool Vision: 2 to 5 Years of Age, School-aged Vision: 6 to 18 Years of Age, and Classroom Exercises.