Skip to main content
Patient Insurance | History forms
Join Our Team
Schedule an Eye Exam
Bordering Cedar Park & North Austin, minutes from Lakeline Mall. NW Corner of El Salido Pkwy & 620, behind AutoZone.
Bordering Cedar Park & North Austin, minutes from Lakeline Mall. NW Corner of El Salido Pkwy & 620, behind AutoZone.
hero-childpage
Home »

back to school

Back-To-School: Why [Eye_Exams] Are More Important Than Ever

Since the onset of COVID-19, many children have been learning remotely through distance learning programs. While parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically, eye doctors are concerned that undiagnosed vision problems may impact the child’s school performance.

Undetected vision problems may hinder a child’s ability to learn. That’s why eye doctors strongly recommend that children undergo a thorough eye exam before the new school year begins.

While it’s tempting to rely on vision screenings provided by schools, these superficial visual acuity tests can identify only a limited number of eyesight problems. Only a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and address a wide range of problems related to vision and eye health.

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Up to 80% of children’s learning is visual, so even the slightest vision problem can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Taking a child in for an eye exam once a year will allow your eye doctor to detect and correct refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, and check their visual skills, such as convergence insufficiency, binocular vision, focusing and more.

Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to detect mild and serious eye health conditions. Routine eye exams are especially important for children with a family history of eye health problems.

How Is Vision Affected By Online Learning?

The amount of time children spend looking at digital screens was already a concern in the pre-pandemic era—but the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. According to the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, children spent twice as much time on screens during COVID-related closures than they did prior to the pandemic.

For one thing, spending prolonged periods of time on digital devices forces the eyes to work harder, making children (and adults) more susceptible to digital eye strain, one of the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome. People who spend 2 or more consecutive hours staring at a screen are at higher risk of developing this condition.

Some computer vision syndrome symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms can be caused by a combination of the following factors:

  • Glare and reflections from the screen
  • Excessive time looking at a screen
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor posture
  • Screen brightness
  • Undetected vision problems

In addition to digital eye strain, several studies have found that children who spend many hours indoors doing “near work” — writing, reading and looking at computers and other digital devices — have a higher rate of myopia progression.

A study published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s professional journal, Ophthalmology, found that first-graders who spent at least 11 hours per week playing outside in the sunshine experienced slower myopia progression. Some researchers think that exposure to sunlight and looking at distant objects while playing outdoors might help decrease myopia progression.

While regular eye exams are essential for every member of the family, they’re especially important for those who spend a good portion of their day in front of a screen.

Don’t put off your child’s annual eye exam. Schedule an appointment with Lakeline Vision Source in Cedar Park today!

Q&A

1. At what age should a child have an eye exam?

According to the American and Canadian Optometric Associations, it’s recommended for a child to have their first eye exam between 6-12 months of age.

Before a child starts school, they should undergo an eye exam, and every one to two years after that, based on their eye doctor‘s recommendation.

2. Does my child need an eye exam if they passed the school vision screening?

Yes! School vision screenings are superficial eye evaluations designed to diagnose a limited number of vision problems like myopia. They do not check for visual skills and other problems that may hinder your child’s academic success.

Your eye doctor will evaluate your child’s vision and eye health, along with visual abilities, including depth perception and eye tracking, to let you know whether your child’s eyes are “school-ready.”

Your Child’s Eye Exam & Their Future

Preparing for school means new school supplies, meeting new friends and teachers, and ensuring your child visits their eye doctor for an eye exam. Although schools may offer vision screenings within a few weeks or days of the new school year to ensure a child doesn’t struggle with poor visual acuity, none of the staff or even trained nurses check for visual problems, such as binocular vision and accommodative eye skills that play a significant role in near vision. Children who develop reading problems may have passed vision screenings yet were never examined by a professional optometrist.

Another benefit of coming to our practice is that we specialize in myopia management. Traditionally, the only way to handle nearsightedness or myopia progression in a child is to increase the prescription, often resulting in thicker glasses. Over a few years, a child will end up jumping from a low prescription of -.5 or -1 to a high prescription of -3 or worse! Unfortunately, high myopia has been identified as a lead cause for eye disease in old age, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and even retinal detachment. A person can be 3-4x at risk for eye disease from having a prescription of -4 compared to someone with a low prescription.

Why does myopia cause eye disease?

Although LASIK surgery can help you see without eyeglasses, once a person’s eyes have worsened to a low prescription, the shape of their eye has elongated to a point that leaves the retina in a precarious state. Laser vision correction merely corrects the surface of the eye, but without preventing myopia progression, the damage has already been done. Therefore, the only way to safely secure one’s vision from greater risk is myopia management, in other words, taking steps to stop progression in its tracks.

What should a parent consider for their child’s next year at school?

Come to our practice and schedule an eye exam with our eye doctor, Dr. Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO. We’ll not only evaluate the child’s complete eye health, but we’ll guide on the proper steps to slow myopia progression. We have methods through specialty contact lenses to stop advancing myopia, but often we’ll educate parents on how to slow progression through good habit building.

  • Children need 2 hours of outside play. Build their long-vision muscles!
  • Reduce screen time
  • Practice the 20-20-20 Rule.
    • Take a break from close vision work every 20 minutes,
    • Then look at something 20 feet away (or further)
    • Spend at least 20 seconds doing this before returning to your close-up work.

We look forward to seeing you and your children and getting the entire family prepared for the new school year with confidence & healthy vision.

At Lakeline Vision Source, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 512-918-3937 or book an appointment online to see one of our Cedar Park eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

5 Ways That Vision Problems Can Affect Your Overall Health

You Feel Chilled, But Your Eyes Are On Fire!

Visiting Your Optometrist During COVID-19

FOLLOW US:

Patient Insurance | History forms
Join Our Team
Schedule an Eye Exam

COVID 19 Stop sign   MASK   11 x 17   APRIL