Back to school eye exams

August 3, 2010 5:12:40 AM PDT
Jessica and Amanda McTaggart of Springfield are getting their eyes checked before heading back to school. Despite being in fifth and second grade, this will be their first comprehensive eye exam.

"I guess I just assumed, their pediatrician, when they went there, the screening that they take there is enough," their mother Debby McTaggart said.

Optometrist Dr. Jim Hall of Ardmore Eye Care said many parents rely solely on vision screenings one at their regular doctors or at school, but he said the simple screenings aren't enough. "They were designed to pick up the major issues, but the small ones get through," he said.

Dr. Hall said screenings won't pick up if kids' eyes aren't working well together or if there's a crossed or turned eye or astigmatism. Screenings also won't detect if there's disease. That's why kids need a full exam by an eye doctor.

"So if you have to do a therapy, it's a lot easier if you catch it earlier rather than later," Hall said.

The first check should be done when children are infants, between six and 12 months. Most optometrists will do that exam for free.

Kids whose parents are near-sighted are more likely to have vision problems. But most won't complain. "Kids don't know they can't see well because that's the way they've always seen," Hall explained.

So kids should have their second comprehensive eye exam when they're five-years-old and soon to start school. That way you know their vision is clear and they're set up to learn. Like Jessica they might even look forward to summer's end and the start of a new school year. "Because I'm bored because there's no homework," she said.

If you notice your child squinting, covering one eye or isn't interested in reading, there could be a problem with their vision.

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