Back-to-School Eye Exams Essential to Helping Children Succeed in the Classroom

August 10, 2016

Media Contact:
Deirdre Middleton, 703.837.1347

The American Optometric Association encourages making vision exams an annual back-to-school tradition.

ST. LOUIS - As the new school year approaches, parents are ensuring their children are prepared with an annual physical, immunizations and back-to-school shopping, but an annual eye exam should also be part of a student's back-to-school routine. According to the American Optometric Association's (AOA) 2015 American Eye-Q® survey, 89% of those surveyed incorrectly believe simple vision screenings, such as those occasionally offered at schools, are an effective way to detect vision problems. However, these screenings cannot detect potentially serious eye and overall health issues in children.

From ages 6 to 18, a child's vision can change frequently or unexpectedly which can lead to behavioral and attention issues in the classroom. This year, AOA encourages parents to start the school year on a healthy note by making comprehensive eye exams a priority and maintaining proper eye health throughout the year.

AOA reminds parents to keep these four eye health and safety tips in mind:

  1. Know that pediatric eye exams are most likely covered by your health insurance plan: Most health insurance plans, including those sold in health insurance marketplaces, cover comprehensive pediatric eye exams. In fact, 54% of people were unaware that the Affordable Care Act now defines a comprehensive eye exam as an essential benefit and cover this expense, including glasses for children, annually according to the AOA's 2015 American Eye-Q® survey.
  2. Look for indicators of vision and eye health issues: Common signals that your child may be experiencing a vision problem include covering one eye, holding reading materials close to the face, a short attention span and complaining of headaches or other discomfort.
  3. Prevent eye strain by monitoring use of digital devices: Increased exposure to electronic devices in and out of the classroom can cause digital eye strain, including burning or itchy eyes, headaches, blurred vision and exhaustion. The AOA recommends following the 20-20-20 rule (taking a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away), blinking frequently and adjusting your child's computer screen to prevent glare can prevent discomfort.
  4. Wear proper eye protection for sports and outdoor activities: Well-fitting, protective eye wear and quality sunglasses that offer UV protection are also critical to maintaining key visual skills for sports and preventing injuries.

"One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem because changes in their eyesight go unrecognized by both the child and their parents or guardian," said Andrea Thau, O.D., president of the AOA. "Making a comprehensive eye examination a priority this year is one of the single most important investments you can make in your child's education and overall health. While schools typically offer basic vision screenings, these often create a false sense of security by missing significant problems. A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to properly diagnose and treat vision and eye health issues."

To learn more and find a doctor of optometry near you, please visit


About the American Eye-Q® survey:
The tenth annual AOA American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From February 19-March 4, 2015, PSB conducted 1,000 online interviews among Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of the U.S. general population. (Margin of error is plus or minus 3.10 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.)

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find a doctor of optometry near you, visit

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