Another school year has begun here in West Hollywood. Parents are making appointments with the pediatrician, and taking their children shopping for school supplies and new clothes. One item that is often left off the to-do list – visiting the eye doctor. Given that a recent Bausch + Lomb Global Barometer Survey found that more than half (63 percent) of people in Los Angeles say that vision loss would negatively impact their lives, annual eye exams should be a top priority.
Since 80% of learning in the classroom is based on vision, it’s important that children have annual eye exams, especially because children have a difficult time recognizing they have a vision problem. Instead, children will find ways to compensate for their declining vision.
As parents, there are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for at home. Watch your child’s behavior as they are reading or watching TV. If they are sitting close to the television or holding a book unusually close or far away, your child may be suffering from a vision problem. Additionally, it’s important to take note of your child’s eyes. Squinting, rubbing the eyes and excessive blinking are all signs that your child may have a vision problem.
After age 5, your child should have an annual eye exam, but if you see any of these symptoms, visit an eye care professional immediately. Eighty percent of visual impairment is preventable if detected and treated early enough.
If it is determined that your child does in fact need vision correction, a doctor will help you and your child decide if glasses or contacts are best. We always start our children out with glasses to correct their vision needs but as they get older and reach middle school we can transition away from glasses and into contact lenses. We tend to see an increase in performance in school, academics, and socially when teenagers transition into contacts from glasses. Typically, we recommend a daily disposable lens for tweens and teens, like Bausch + Lomb’s SofLens daily disposables, as these lenses require no maintenance and are thrown out nightly, minimizing the risk of infection.
To ensure your child has a healthy and productive school year, consider booking an annual eye exam. After all, it’ll be difficult for your child to learn without being able to see the blackboard.
Dr. Ryan Stybel is an optometrist at Positive Eyes Ons Optometry in West Hollywood.