Congratulations: You stocked up on new backpacks, lunch boxes, PE shoes and probably so much more. But as nice as all of these extras are, high-quality comfortable vision is one of the most important things your kids need when they go back to school. With each passing year, as kids grow, their needs, interests and lifestyles change, which means their vision needs change too.
Since what worked last year may not be the best choice this fall, here are some tips to help you get your big and little kids started on the right foot this school year.
Schedule an Eye Exam.
Getting your child’s eyes ready for back to school begins with an eye exam. Many schools offer free vision screenings. Don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. A comprehensive eye exam is very different than a vision screening and can diagnose and address a spectrum of conditions not captured by stand-alone eye chart tests.1 In fact, the American Optometric Association says eye and vision care ought to be given the same level of importance and attention as other standard medical practices, such as dental care and vaccinations.1
Evaluate Growth and Changing Needs.
During the visit, talk to the doctor about your child’s interests and lifestyle. Does he or she play sports, read a lot (you wish!), get headaches or often lose eyeglasses? All of this information can help guide the doctor to more suitable vision correction options when needed. For example, student athletes who wear contact lenses don’t have to worry about their glasses slipping due to sweat. Plus, they often enjoy better vision, and have more options for protective eyewear and sunwear.
Get Supplies in Order.
If you have teens or college-bound kids who won’t be home as often as you’d like, good backup plans may be needed. For example, does your child have an extra pair of glasses and a complete supply of contact lenses and lens care equipment? Discuss all of this with your doctor so there are no surprises the night before a big test or a championship game. And don’t forget, lens cases need to be replaced too. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology contact lens cases should be replaced every three months.2 If you’re not completely confident that your son or daughter will clean and store contact lenses safely, talk to the doctor about daily disposables, such as MyDay®.
Consider Kids’ Feelings.
Some kids think glasses are pretty neat—at least for a little while. But after the newness wears off—and as they get older and become more involved in sports and makeup—many kids want to move on to contact lenses. The good news is that there are lots of benefits to wearing contact lenses, even for kids. For children who play sports where glasses just aren’t practical, contact lenses are a game changer. But research shows that the positive physical and psychological effects of contact lens wear are even more far reaching. The Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) study revealed that contact lenses can greatly enhance a young person’s overall self esteem. The ACHIEVE researchers investigated the psychological effect wearing contact lenses had on children and young teenagers over a period of three years and discovered that contact lens wearers reported an improvement in their physical appearance, acceptance among friends and athletic ability. Contacts even increased confidence in academic performance for some kids.
Kids want a lot of stuff for back to school. But healthy eyes and crisp vision should take precedence over most things on that list. After all, most of their activities and progress this year will depend on it.
Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.
1. American Optometric Association. Evidence-based clinical practice guideline: Comprehensive pediatric eye and vision examination. Guideline Brief 2017. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/Documents/AOA%20Peds%20Guidline%20Brief%202017_FINAL%20v4.pdf
2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Contact Lens 101: a Back-to-School Must for Teens. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/contact-lens-101-back-to-school-must-teens