Children’s Eye Health for Back-to-School

Children’s Eye Health for Back-to-School

The end of summer can be a bittersweet time for both parents and kids. The lazy weekday mornings will soon end, and the fun-filled hot days will grow much cooler. As you plan out your child’s back-to-school preparations, such as shopping for clothes, filling out forms, and making sure those immunizations are up-to-date, don’t forget to add an eye exam to your list.

Monitoring your child’s eye health should be a priority for parents of school-aged children. Children need clear vision to learn, play, work well with their peers, and embrace the world around them. Consequently, they may face challenges in a school environment if their sight is impaired. For example, some visual problems can lead to headaches and fatigue, which can then make completing schoolwork difficult. Difficulty in school can then negatively affect your child’s self-esteem.

Some kids don’t realize they are struggling to see
Many kids don’t notice their vision problems until they start school. Children typically overlook their poor vision because they don’t know otherwise. They simply assume everyone else sees the same way and that their vision is normal. This underscores the importance of routine eye exams for school-aged kids. Help is available so your child doesn’t have to struggle in school with poor vision.
If your child experiences any of these symptoms, be sure to schedule an appointment with an optometrist, preferably before school starts:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Difficulty or avoidance of close or distance work
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Head tilting or strange postures
  • Squinting to see
  • Using a finger as a placeholder while reading
  • Often losing place while reading
  • Confusing or omitting words while reading
  • Poor academic performance that is below your child’s potential

Common eye conditions start to emerge
At this time in a child’s life, several common eye conditions may begin to emerge, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, all of which can cause decreased vision. Nearsighted children can see well up close, but have difficulty seeing at a distance. Kids with farsightedness typically have more difficulty with their near vision, and those with astigmatism have may have decreased vision both near and far.

Remember to schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam!
Make sure your child has a productive school year by booking an eye exam before the first class begins. We recommend the first exam take place at 6 months of age, and then every year thereafter. Don’t forget that Alberta Health Care provides routine eye exam coverage for patients 0-18 years of age (and 65 years of age and older), and also provides coverage for medically necessary examinations for all Albertans.

We hope you and your family had a safe and happy summer!

See you soon!

Dr. Danielle
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