AOA alerts parents: Back-to-school eye exams more essential than ever
To capture the public's attention, and prompt them to take action, AOA's annual Ready for School public relations campaign emphasizes the growing strain that digital device use is putting on children's eyes, and how to deal with it.
"We have a responsibility to the eye and vision health of our nation's 38 million school-age children."
AOA's 2015 American Eye-Q® survey revealed that increasing use of technology at home and at school is taking a toll on the eye health and vision of children in America. While technology may enhance learning and provide entertainment, the long-term effects on children's eyes are not yet fully known. And 41 percent of parents report their children spend three or more hours a day using digital devices.
Campaign materials advise on reducing problems associated with digital device use, recommending that the most important thing to do is have a comprehensive eye exam performed by a doctor of optometry. The materials also recommend the 20-20-20 rule, or looking away from screens for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to view something 20 feet away; remembering to blink; and having the screen in the appropriate position.
A news release is being distributed nationally on July 20, and localizable news releases, social media messages and an infographic are available now for member use in your own communities and on your own practice websites and social media pages.
In addition, AOA Trustee Barbara L. Horn, O.D., will speak on dozens of local TV stations across the country, as well as national radio networks, during a satellite media tour on July 28.
No substitute for annual, comprehensive eye exam
The 2015 American Eye-Q survey also found that 89 percent of respondents mistakenly believe that screenings given to children in school or in pediatrician's offices are effective in identifying vision problems that can adversely affect learning.
As a result, the AOA is intensifying efforts to educate parents, teachers and caregivers about the need for comprehensive eye exams for children each year before school.
In a video news release distributed nationally in mid-July, AOA President Steven A. Loomis, O.D., said, "Unfortunately, parents and educators often incorrectly assume that if a child passes a school screening, then there is no vision problem. However, many school vision screenings only test for distance visual acuity, and the vision skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex."
He added, "As America's family eye doctors, we feel we have a responsibility to the eye and vision health of our nation's 38 million school-age children because healthy eyes and good vision are essential to a child's ability to learn."
The video news release also is available for members to use.