August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month – Warning Signs your child may have a vision problem.

For many families, August is back to school time! Along with school supply shopping and purchasing those back-to-school clothing items, it’s time to make comprehensive eye exam appointments for the kids. Conveniently, August is designated as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month!

A good rule of thumb is to have your children’s eyes examined during well-child visits, beginning around age three. Your child’s eye doctor can help detect refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism as well as the following diseases:

  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Strabismus (crossed eyes)
  • Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)
  • Color deficiency (color blindness)

If you or your doctor suspects that your child may have a vision problem, you can make an appointment with your local ophthalmologist for further testing.
Here are some warning signs that may indicate that your child has a vision problem:

  • Wandering or crossed eyes
  • A family history of childhood vision problems
  • Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
  • Squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner while watching television
  • Consistently sitting close to the TV or holding a book too closely
  • Squinting, blinking or closing one eye repeatedly
  • Tilting the head to one side to try to see better
  • Frequent eye rubbing while doing activities
  • Sensitivity to light and/or frequent headaches
  • Losing his or her place while reading
  • Avoiding reading and other close-up visual work
  • Becoming irritated when doing visual work
  • Poor hand-eye coordination

1. Make sure your child gets a comprehensive eye exam. Children should get their first eye exam as newborns, again as infants between 6 months to a year old, and then once more as a toddler between the ages of 3 and 3 1/2. Once children reach school age, the AOA recommends they undergo a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years — even if a child successfully passes a school vision screening with 20/20 vision. A vision screening can actually miss up to 60% of children with other vision problems. Vision screenings are limited because they only test for visual acuity, while comprehensive eye exams check for other eye issues such as lazy eye, glaucoma, cataracts and more.

2. Limit your child’s exposure to screens and electronic devices. In 2015, a panel of U.S. ophthalmology experts suggested that excessive computer time in kids may contribute to childhood myopia, or nearsightedness, where kids have a hard time seeing objects farther away.A prolonged amount of TV watching, or just staring at the computer or iPad for too long, may tire your child’s eyes and potentially make vision worse,” explains Ranasinghe.

3. Protect your child’s eyes from the sun and injuries. Just as we need sunscreen to protect our skin, your child’s eye health can stay safe by wearing sunglasses when outside for long periods of time on sunny days. For younger children who won’t cooperate with sunglasses, a hat can also help shield their eyes.
Eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children. There are about 42,000 sports-related eye injuries every year in America, and children suffer most of these injuries. Help prevent your child from being one of the more than 12 million children who suffer from vision impairment by remembering a few basic rules of safety: All children should wear protective eyewear while participating in sports or recreational activities & purchase age-appropriate toys for your children and avoid toys with sharp or protruding parts (Source: HAP).

Help your children have a successful school year by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam and taking safety measures to ensure their eyes are free from injury.