Atlanta -- For most Georgia children and their parents, it probably seems like school has just been out for a few weeks, but the next school year will be here before you know it. And one of the most important things parents can do to ensure their children are ready to take on the challenges of a new school year is to take them for a back-to-school eye exam.
"Vision problems can significantly affect your child's ability to learn," says Dr. Maurice Zadeh, president of the Georgia Optometric Association (GOA). "According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 80% of all learning during a child's first 12 years is obtained through the eyes; yet 86% of children do not receive a vision exam during that time. It is estimated that 20 percent of preschool children ages 3-4 have a treatable eye condition. Yet, less than one in five children has had an eye exam before entering school."
Dr. Zadeh stresses the importance of a thorough eye exam to detect serious potential problems.
"Results from a recent National Eye Institute (NEI)-sponsored study found that commonly used vision screening tests too often fall short in identifying common childhood eye conditions such as amblyopia, strabismus and significant refractive error," he notes. "In the federal study, vision screenings missed particular disorders in more than 30 percent of the children."
The GOA president encourages all parents to have their children's eyes checked at the beginning of each school year, but particularly during the growth years.
"A child's vision may experience frequent changes and he or she may not realize a problem exists," explains Dr. Zadeh. "Problems may range from seeing a blurred chalkboard, to reading difficulties and poor concentration stemming from poor eye movement, focusing and coordination."
THE GEORGIA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION OFFERS THESE SYMPTOMS THAT MAY ASSIST IN THE EARLY DETECTION OF EYE AND VISION DIFFICULTIES:
"In Georgia, children must have an eye screening before entering school for the first time, but it is important to continue annual back-to-school eye exams, especially in the elementary grades," Dr. Zadeh advises. "It is too important not to give every child every advantage to excel in school."