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Kid eye care

5 Back-to-school rules to help protect your kids’ eyes (Distance Learning Edition)

Many kids are re-entering the classroom with nearly a year of distance learning under their belts. Going from all that screen time into an in-person learning environment might uncover some new visual challenges. Most kids simply don’t realize if their sight is off. So we’ve got a list of need-to-knows for parents aiming to keep their kids’ vision focused and healthy during this “back to school” season.

Kids Eye Exams Are Important Year Round

A whopping 80% of a child’s learning comes through the eyes, yet 1 in 4 school-age children have a vision problem. But often kids don’t even know something is wrong. It’s up to us parents to spot the signs of compromised eyesight and to take precautions against it.

  1. Your student’s digital “classroom” might have changed their vision. Because a computer forces the user to focus and strain more than many other tasks, heavy computer use among kids can lead to early myopia (also known as nearsightedness). According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, kids who develop myopia early in life have a greater chance of developing vision issues like glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment. Now is the time to have their eyes checked to see what changes might have occurred during distance learning, and address them early.
  2. Screenings aren’t everything. In-school screenings may detect basic problems, but don’t assume total vision health in your student when one of these goes well. In fact, school vision screenings can miss up to 50% of visual issues. A comprehensive eye exam tests your child’s complete visual system and can help gauge how the eyes work together and other functions. Again, now is the time. Early detection is key!
  3. Vision issues can manifest as behavior problems. Because grades may suffer and behavior changes with degrading vision, children who have trouble seeing are often misdiagnosed with behavioral problems like ADHD. If your child has trouble keeping their focus or concentration, it might be time for an eye exam.
  4. Difficulty or disliking reading is the most common issue we see in kids–and it’s often not related to their intelligence level. If your child doesn’t like to read, it may be because they lose their place easily, or the letters are flipped or too fuzzy to detect. This can lead to headaches, fatigue and lightheadedness. Kids naturally want to avoid these and will therefore avoid reading.
  5. Watch out for body or head contortions. Head tilting may look inquisitive and cute, but when it’s a habit while reading, it could signal a potential vision issue in your child. The same goes for kids who rub their eyes a lot, crane their neck closer or farther away from a page, or cover one eye while reading.

Watch to learn more about how distance learning might have affected your students’ vision

All these issues can be identified and addressed with a comprehensive vision exam. If you want your kids to have a comfortable and successful transition return to the classroom, schedule a visit to EYEcenter as part of your back-to-school checklist.

A Letter to Parents: What to Expect at your Child’s Eye Exam

If you’ve never had your child’s eyes examined or it’s been a while, EYEcenter’s own Dr. Meagan Herring wrote a letter to let you know what you can expect at your child’s next (or first) eye exam…

Dear Parent,

I know you are curious about your child’s first eye exam. Here is what will take place:

I will introduce myself as Dr. Herring, then welcome you and your child into my exam room. I’ll ask if you have any concerns regarding their eyes or vision that you’d like addressed today and we’ll chat about it for a few minutes.

I will ask about their eye and overall health history, including any medications, allergies. family medical and eye histories, so bring any old pairs of glasses they’ve worn in the past.

Then, we will discuss their developmental and educational milestones, as well as any daily habits including digital device use and amount of time spent doing near work.

I will also ask you whether they get enough water, sleep and outdoor play time, in addition to their nutritional patterns. It is my job as a primary care provider to inquire and discuss these aspects of your child’s health as they can each affect their visual system and overall eye health.

I will then begin with my assessment of their visual system by checking both near and far acuities and perform a few preliminary tests. These “games” include assessment of their eye movements, tracking patterns and natural postures, ability to focus, peripheral vision, pupillary assessment, color vision and depth perception.

I may then perform what’s called an ‘objective refraction’ behind the phoropter depending on their age. You know the piece of equipment I’m referring to – the bulky, outer space-like contraption? The phoropter will be placed in front of your child’s face to determine whether a refractive error exists.

I will do this by shining a light from a black, rod-like instrument called a retinoscope in their eyes while turning dials on the phoropter, all the while encouraging your child to sit still and stare at a large letter on a screen across the room.

Your child can sit still, right?

That’s when the fun begins. Depending on how active your child is, my time is limited or I will lose their attention and focus. I also get to decode what your child’s responses mean as I present lens options to them, while encouraging them further down the eye chart to the 20/20 line, (which, by the way, refers to what an average person sees at 20 feet as being the same size object that your child can see at 20 feet.)

By then, I will have a pretty good idea of whether or not your child may need glasses.

Up next, I will assess their binocular vision status, (how well their eyes work together), through the phoropter. Did you know that some children’s difficulties in school can be attributed to poor vision or eye teaming skills?

I will then move on to the health evaluation part of the exam and look at their eyes under a giant microscope called a slit lamp. I can tell identify any ocular allergies, blepharitis or dry eyes. I may need your help holding their head firmly in place and can even show you their eyes through the slit lamp if you are interested.

Dilation of their pupils comes next, and I will do this by gently instilling drops into their eyes. Don’t worry, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, including ‘magic drops’ and the ‘closed eye’ method. They don’t hurt but will make their eyes feel numb for a few minutes and blurry for a few hours after the exam.

Oh, and please don’t ask if this is necessary because they have soccer practice right after the exam or you will probably have to bring them back to finish their exam. Although I am a fan of the retinal photos you had taken at the beginning of the exam, they do not substitute the dilation, in your child’s case. This is because I perform a stronger dilation (aka cycloplegic dilation) necessary for me to fully assess their visual system and finalize their prescription.

You may choose to wait in the waiting area, or try on frames while your child’s eyes dilate. I will call him or her back in 15-20 minutes.

After your child’s eyes are blurry and the pupils are the size of dimes, it’s time for part 2 of the exam, where I will repeat the “better 1, or 2?” test.

I will then have the data I need to recommend or not to recommend glasses, patching or vision therapy.

Onto the final health assessment, where I will take one last look through the giant microscope at the back of their eyes with a small lens. I am not expecting to find anything, but am trained to look for congenital abnormalities, retinal holes or tears and cancerous tumors. I finalize this part with a larger lens and a science-y looking contraption on my head. Very fancy.

And that will conclude your child’s total eye check. I will go over any treatment recommendations and we will discuss any questions you have before making their personalized eye care plan.

Of course, we save the best for last as your child will receive a pair of ever-fashionable, disposable dark-out shades as you leave. And maybe a sticker 😉

Thank you for entrusting me in the care of your child’s eye health.

Sincerely,

Dr. Meagan

Reproduced with permission originally published in https://www.mindfuloptometrist.com/post/a-letter-to-parents-what-to-expect-at-your-child-s-eye-exam

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Herring

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sacramento, California. Visit EYEcenter optometric for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Are We Missing Dry Eye in Children?

Learn all about dry eye in the classroom

When you hear about dry eye syndrome, you probably envision either a senior citizen taking off his or her glasses to rub sore eyes, or a frantic middle-aged office worker who is glued to the computer 24/7. Most likely, a picture of kids in school does not pop into your head.

However, dry eye in the classroom has become a contemporary health problem – most of which can be traced back to the increasing use of computers and smartphones amongst the youngest population groups. At EYEcenter Optometric, our Citrus Heights, California , eye doctor sees many children who present with the annoying symptoms of dry eye. Learn more about how to prevent this condition from bothering your kids.

Dry eye in the classroom

In recent years, kids have been complaining about the same irritating symptoms of dry eye that older adults experience, such as:

  • Fluctuating blurry vision
  • Redness
  • Soreness
  • Burning or stinging
  • A feeling that something is stuck in their eyes
  • Tearing

During pediatric eye exams in our Citrus Heights, California , office, it is typical for kids to tell our optometrist that these bothersome symptoms get in the way of seeing the classroom board, reading, gazing at their computer screens, or texting on their smartphone.

The link to blinking

A primary reason that dryeye in the classroom is on the rise has to do with modern methods of education and popular types of after-school recreation, which are mainly visual and involve digital screens. Classrooms are equipped with computers for learning, and once the bell rings – many kids head home to spend their afternoons gaming or texting with friends, activities which all contribute substantially to the amount of daily screen exposure.

As kids spend more time staring at screens, they spend more time concentrating without blinking – or only blinking partially, which doesn’t moisturize the eyes fully. And when the rate of blinking goes down, the rate at which tears evaporate goes up – leading directly to dry eye.

Ways to help prevent dry eye in kids

  • Encourage your child to take frequent breaks when he or she watches TV, uses a computer, or reads
  • Make sure your child avoids smoke and other irritants in the air
  • Fit your child with a pair of wraparound sunglasses to protect against the sun and wind
  • Install a humidifier in your child’s room
  • If kids wear contact lenses, they should carry around a bottle of preservative-free artificial tears for lubricating their eyes, or wear glasses when they have dry eye symptoms
  • Limit screen time; a 2016 Korean study published in the journal BMC Ophthalmology found that when kids stopped using their smartphone for about four weeks, their dry eye symptoms improved significantly

Schedule your child for regular eye exams with our Citrus Heights, California , eye doctor. The earlier dry eye syndrome is detected, the easier it can be treated with the right education and intervention.

At EYEcenter Optometric, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 916-727-6518 or book an appointment online to see one of our Citrus Heights eye doctors.

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