Doctors of Optometry Provide Eye Exams to Nationals Youth Baseball Academy Scholar Athletes

Deirdre Middleton, 703-837-1347, dmiddleton@aoa.org        

More than 75 scholar-athletes received free eye care, protective eye wear and education about the importance of protecting eyes  

July 27, 2017 (Washington, DC) - Early detection and treatment of eye and vision issues helps ensure healthy vision for life which is why Keith Smithson, O.D. - Chair, American Optometric Association (AOA) Sports & Performance Vision Committee (SPVC) pediatric and sports vision specialist, Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry and Washington Nationals eye doctor - along with colleagues Robert Sparrenberger, O.D. and Hylton Mayer, MD, provided eye care and education to youths in grades 3 through 7 participating in the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.  

Every child participating in the event received a no-cost comprehensive, in-person eye exam with Dr. Smithson or one of his colleagues, as well a pair of sunglasses that are specifically designed to protect young, developing eyes. A significant number of participating athletes, 45, were identified as needing vision correction and received no-cost prescription glasses.  

"Kids are using their eyes to learn and develop every moment of the day, which is why this is such a great opportunity to provide care and education to these young athletes," said Dr. Smithson. "Maximizing vision and proper eye protection is critical to the safety and performance of athletes, as well as minimizing the risk of concussions." 

Earlier this year, AOA released its newly revised, Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline: Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination, for pediatric eye health. The guideline, based on a three-year systematic review of the latest research, put comprehensive eye exams on par with other annual health examinations for children. The evidence now supports that children ages six to 18 years should receive a comprehensive eye exam before entering the first grade and annually thereafter.  

Nationals' third basemen and board member of the Youth Baseball Academy, Anthony Rendon, helped organize the vision event for the Academy's scholar-athletes.  

Dr. Smithson points to the life-changing outcomes of eye exams for children, citing stories of children who'd never received an eye exam until today. "Last year, my most memorable patient was a fifth-grade girl who never had an eye exam. She was uncorrected at 20/200 in each eye. After the exam, I witnessed her seeing clearly for the first time," he said. "We want to educate the public to the importance of prevention, early detection and treatment through comprehensive eye exams every year for all children."  

The AOA Sports and Performance Vision Committee (SPVC) works continuously to provide care and maximize eye and vision protection and performance for athletes. Specifically, SPVC focuses on advocating for:

·        The importance of comprehensive eye exams for youth sports. Most states require a sports physical, yet the vision portion of that physical is simple static acuity. Without a comprehensive eye exam for these kids, eye and vision problems could be missed that could hinder sports performance and potentially leave them more susceptible to injury.

·        Understanding what constitutes sport-safe eyewear and the importance of US protection in youth sports and its long-term impact on eye health.

·        Value of optometry in the management of post-concussion syndrome. Many allied health professionals including athletic trainers, neurologists, neuropsychologists and team ophthalmologists are actively seeking optometrists to manage the multiple visual effects that can be present post-concussion.   

For more information, visit www.aoa.org/SPV.  

About the AOA:

The American Optometric Association, founded in 1898, is the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation's health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals and optometry students. Doctors of optometry take a leading role in patient care with respect to eye and vision care, as well as general health and well-being. As primary health care providers, doctors of optometry have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage ocular disorders, diseases and injuries and systemic diseases that manifest in the eye. Doctors of optometry provide more than two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For more information on eye health and vision topics, and to find a doctor of optometry near you, visit aoa.org.