As the end of the summer approaches, back-to-school time is top of mind for many parents. One of the most important ways to ensure a successful school year is to make your child’s sight a priority. To help raise awareness, Prevent Blindess has declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness month and is offering a series of programs to help save children’s sight. Read on to learn some of the topics covered and how you can get involved:
Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
Lazy eye, also called Amblyopia, is decreased vision that results from abnormal visual development in infancy and early childhood and is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. This condition develops when nerve pathways between the brain and the eye aren't properly stimulated. As a result, the brain favors one eye, usually due to poor vision in the other eye causing the brain to ignore signals from the other eye. Treatment includes eye patches, eyedrops, and glasses or contacts, or sometimes surgical treatment. The Eye Patch Club is a program geared towards children with this condition and membership includes a kit with special calendars and stickers.
Crossed Eyes (Strabismus)
Crossed eyes, also called strabismus, is a condition in which your eyes do not line up properly. If your child has this disorder, his or her eyes would look in different directions, with each eye focusing on a different object. It is very common, affecting four percent of children age 6 and younger. Nobody knows why some children are born with this condition, but it does tend to run in families. Crossed eyes can usually be corrected with eyeglasses and/or surgery.
Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States and most of those injuries are sports-related. Protective eyewear is the key to sports eye safety as ninety percent of sports-related eye injuries can be avoided with the use of protective eyewear. Even if your child’s sports league does not require eyewear, you as a parent have a right to insist on protecting your child’s eyesight.
Affordable Care Act and Children’s Vision
Through the Affordable Care Act, parents can now sign up for health insurance plans that will provide their children with full coverage for childhood comprehensive eye exams and glasses or contact lenses for correcting vision. As of last year, vision care for children will be covered by many health plans as an essential benefit, no longer standing alone in separate vision plans.
Eye Safety Programs
One of the resources provided by Prevent Blindness America is the Eye Spy eye health and safety education program. It’s a series of interactive games where kids can learn the parts of the eye, how the eye works and what to do to protect their eyes. Another is the Star Pupils Eye Health and Safety Curriculum which provides teachers with interactive materials to help students learn about the importance and mechanics of sight.
Good vision is key to a child’s physical development, school success and well-being. By setting up a comprehensive eye exam for your child this month, you can get them on the right track for a happy and healthy school year. If you’re curious about getting contacts for your child, read our article on the subject. Or, if you’re looking for a new eye doctor, use our Find an Eye Doctor tool.