Adequate vision and healthy eyes are crucial for a child's success in school.
Just ask your child's teacher. If a child isn't able to see letters and symbols on a classroom whiteboard clearly, or view numbers and shapes in a math book, their ability to learn will be compromised.
In the United States, about 58.8 million children have prescription glasses. There are several reasons a child might have vision problems. He might struggle seeing objects far away or his work close up. Or one set of eye muscles might be weaker than the other, making it difficult for the eyes to work together.
Anytime parents have concerns about their child's eyes, they should discuss them with the child's pediatrician or family doctor. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following guidelines for childhood vision examinations:
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Newborns — A pediatrician or family doctor will check the eyes of a baby for overall eye health. If problems arise, the doctor may refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Preschool-age children — Between the ages of 3 and 4 years, a child's ability to see clearly should be tested along with overall eye health and eye alignment.
School-age children — As children enter kindergarten, they should have a formal eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Children with glasses — An annual eye exam should be scheduled for children who have prescription glasses. In addition, your child's doctor or eye specialist may recommend more frequent eye exams for other eye health issues. Don't forget to talk to your doctor about eye safety if your child plays sports.
School nurses routinely screen students' vision in kindergarten, first, third, fifth, eighth and 10th grades. But a school nurse can offer that service any time a parent or teacher has a concern. If abnormal results are found, the nurse will contact parents and advise them on the next step, usually an exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
If your child has glasses or contacts, teach her to wear them every day as prescribed. Here are some ways to do that:
Model how to wear glasses or contacts properly. Children learn a lot from watching their parents. Parents who wear glasses or contacts should take time to show a child how they take care of their own glasses or contacts, including cleaning and storing them.
Encourage your child to personalize his eyeglass case. Help prevent glasses from getting broken or lenses scratched by teaching your child to use an eyeglass case for safe storage. Consider buying a couple of durable but generic eyeglass cases. Have your child choose fun stickers or use markers to personalize the outside of the case.
Make a reward chart. Look in the education section of stores for chore charts. Have your child choose stickers to add to the chart for each day that she wears her glasses at home and to school. Have a small reward for your child when she has accumulated a certain number of stickers.
People who have difficulty paying for the cost of an eye exam or purchasing eyeglasses can seek financial help through a variety of resources in Wichita. They should not hesitate to get more information from their child's school nurse.