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

“Vision impacts learning.”

About 80% of learning is through your child’s eyes so a back-to-school eye exam is essential for classroom success. 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. Having a comprehensive eye examination can pinpoint any visual discomfort or eye conditions that can interfere with your child’s ability to focus and learn.

Did you know that 1-in-4 children have an undiagnosed vision problem because changes in their eyesight go unrecognized by both the child and their parents. Your eye doctor can help pinpoint vision-related learning difficulties.

Just a few of the many articles citing vision-related learning difficulties and treatments are: “Wearing glasses improves reading fluency in children with high astigmatism” and “How Astigmatism Affects Reading Fluency.”

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 percent 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. There is no substitute for an annual comprehensive eye exam. 

Making a comprehensive eye examination a priority this year is an important investment 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. The American Optometric Association 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.

The American Optometric Assocation reminds parents to keep these four eye health and safety tips in mind:

  • 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 percent 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.