August Is Amblyopia Awareness Month
According to the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, fewer than 20 percent of preschool kids are currently being screened for vision problems despite serious, but treatable, eye disorders found in young children. Florida Eye recommends having your children’s vision examined annually, and many parents choose to make back-to-school appointments
If you are not taking your child for a yearly exam, says Dr. Lee Friedman, Florida Eye’s pediatric ophthalmologic and strabismus specialist, you are doing your child a disservice. “Just like you need to bring your car in for maintenance, or change the air filters in your home periodically throughout the year, children, as well as adults, need to have their eyes examined yearly. Think of it as preventative care.”
Yearly eye exams are very important, stresses Dr. Friedman, because besides practicing preventative care, it is possible for your child to have a serious vision problem without your even being aware of it.
“Infants should be screened for common eye problems during their regular pediatric appointments and vision testing should be conducted for all children starting at around three years of age,” says Dr. Friedman. “And if there is a family history of eye problems or if a problem is apparent, your eye doctor may suggest your child’s eyes be examined more frequently.”
According to Dr. Friedman, during most exams, an eye doctor will look for amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid), color deficiency (color blindness) and refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism). “Aside from vision threatening conditions, eye screenings for children are important because vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing them,” says Friedman. “And if your child is having trouble seeing the blackboard or the words in a book, learning, as well as participating in recreational activities will suffer.”
Give your children the best possible gift you possible could by making time for eye exams, says Dr. Friedman. “Your child may not appreciate the yearly visits now, when they have no complaints, but they will thank you later for being so conscious and proactive regarding their vision, as they see classmates facing vision issues during the school year.”