Page 8

Advocate for Kids’ Eye Care

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Family Features Studies repeatedly emphasize the importance of diagnosing vision problems at an early age, but that’s something many parents assume is being covered by their children’s school system. In reality, an estimated one in four American school-age children have vision problems that – if untreated – can affect learning ability, personality and behavioral developments, adjustment in school and, ultimately, could lead to blindness. While it’s true that schools may provide vision screenings for younger children, one study found that even if a child failed such an exam, 50 percent of parents were unaware of the failure two months after the screening. Furthermore, these screenings do not adequately test for prevalent vision disorders such as amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes) or significant refractive error. 8 | Tri-Cities Health & Wellness - Winter 2017

These disorders can, if left untreated, have an economic impact, too – children’s vision disorders cost an estimated $10 billion annually in the United States alone. These issues can be addressed early on if children are given comprehensive eye examinations by eye care professionals, and the sooner they’re identified, the better. A recent study from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine evaluated the status of vision in the U.S. health care system and recommended comprehensive eye exams as the “gold standard” in identifying potential vision disorders for children before they enter school – even though this is something only three states currently require of their school systems. What’s more, research has shown that of children in the 9-to-15 age group, only 10 percent who needed eyeglasses actually had them.