Back to school – double-check that checklist!

Parents, I don’t know about you, but I keep asking myself, “Where did the summer go?”  Last time I checked, it was Fourth of July and now I am racing out to buy school supplies for my son who is entering his second year of preschool this month.  But amidst the notebooks, pencils, and that perfect outfit for the first day of school, there is a good chance you’ve missed a critical item on your back-to-school checklist this year: With everything else going on, it can be easy to take your child’s vision for granted – after all, young eyes are healthy and strong, right? Not necessarily.  One in four children has a vision problem that interferes with learning.  Half of all American children have not had a comprehensive eye exam.  In fact, many need glasses and don’t even know it.  Sadly, if left uncorrected, vision problems can impact their ability to learn and interact with the world.

Some more food for thought: Did you know that vision disorders are the fourth most common disability in the United States and the most prevalent handicapping condition during childhood?  That’s bad news, but the good news is that, if caught, it can be easily treated in most cases! The real key, and I can’t stress this enough, is diagnosing vision issues before they manifest into other issues, including problems with behavior and even school performance.  Unfortunately, we rely heavily on screenings performed at the pediatrician’s office and at school.  But while these screenings are sufficient in diagnosing myopia (near-sightedness) and large amounts of asymmetry between the two eyes, it’s important to know that they overlook some significant aspects of the overall visual system.

A comprehensive vision exam from an optometrist evaluates more than just the child’s distance vision and the overall health of the eye.  We work to assess, for example, the binocular ability and depth perception of the two eyes, the strength of the focusing system, and the ability to perceive detail up-close for long periods of time.  Conditions affecting the binocular system of the eyes can easily be overlooked because they don’t cause blurry vision, plus the symptoms are much more subtle and can include things such as avoidance of near tasks, rubbing red and tired eyes, and sometimes even headaches.

My team here at West Hills Vision Care is proud to be a resource for all your vision needs. As a mother of two, I specialize in comprehensive eye care for the whole family and take a special interest in the health of young eyes.  So don’t forget to schedule your child’s annual appointment today, and we can discuss any concerns you may have about his or her vision to best set them up for success this school year.

Happy Fall!

Katie Phillips, OD

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