SOURCE: American Optometric Association

American Optometric Association

August 04, 2009 11:15 ET

Before Heading Back to School, the American Optometric Association Recommends a Visit to the Optometrist

12 Million Children Suffer From Vision Impairments That Can Impact Learning

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwire - August 4, 2009) - Children across the country are gearing up for a new school year. Before heading back to the classroom, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a visit to the optometrist. Healthy vision is an important part to the learning process and success in school. Reading, writing, and computer work are among the visual skills that students are required to perform daily. However, studies show that 86 percent of children start school without ever having an eye examination.

"Because a child's vision may change frequently, regular eye and vision care is crucial to a student's classroom success," said Dr. Michael Earley, optometrist and the AOA's vision & learning specialist. "Unfortunately, most parents are not including eye exams as part of their child's back-to-school health check-up."

The AOA recommends that children have their first eye assessment at six months of age, then comprehensive eye exams beginning at age three, again before a child enters school, and then every two years, unless otherwise advised by an optometrist. In between visits to the eye doctor, parents, as well as teachers, should keep a watchful eye out for some of the more prevalent signs that a child's vision may be impaired including headaches, tendency to rub eyes, avoiding close work, squinting while reading, and behavioral problems.

The earlier a vision problem is detected and treated, the more likely treatment will be successful. Comprehensive eye exams play a critical role in this process. It is important to keep in mind, a school vision screening, while helpful, is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam. Screenings vary in scope and are not designed to detect many visual problems that can significantly impact tasks like reading where more clarity of vision is needed. Comprehensive eye exams performed by a doctor of optometry are essential for clear, comfortable and healthy vision.

To find an optometrist in your area, or for additional information on children's vision or the importance of back-to-school eye exams, please visit www.aoa.org.

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