During the summer months, I try to schedule all of our different doctors’ appointments for the kiddies, so they are out of the way come fall. Most offices have good availability, since people tend to travel when their kids are out of school, and getting in during morning hours never seems to be a problem. Our most recent appointment was the eye doctor for Siella.
Trips to the eye doctor are nothing new in our home. Ryder wore glasses for two years, while receiving eye therapy for convergence insufficiency, and about a year ago we discovered Siella needed eye glasses for reading. The Vision Council, in line with the American Optometric Association, recommends children have their first eye exam with an eyecare provider when they’re between 6 months to a year old, at least once between ages 3 and 5 or as recommended, and annually starting at age 6 or before entering first grade.
Last week, we hopped the train to Park Slope Eye, and met with Dr. Justin Bazan. Siella received a full eye exam, and afterwards the doctor explained why we need to pay close attention to our children’s vision. According to Think About Your Eyes, 80 percent of learning happens through the eyes, and with this, it’s imperative to make my little ones’ vision health a top priority.
Many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and prevented early. For example, the most common vision problem in children is nearsightedness, or myopia, which is growing at an alarming rate and puts the eyes at risk for more serious vision-threatening conditions. Myopia affects 1.7 billion people worldwide, with more than half the world expected to be myopic by 2050, so early detection in children is key. When parents know what to look for, it can be relatively easy to spot problems with a child’s vision. Keep an eye out for these symptoms or behaviors: short attention span, avoiding or not liking reading, pulling a book in close to their face, sitting too close to a TV, and/or lots of blinking or eye rubbing.
One thing Dr. Bazan recommended for all three of my children was to spend more time outdoors and less time using digital devices, since screen time may influence the development of nearsightedness. This is something I encourage and enforce as a rule in our house already, but it was nice to know that my mania to get them outside every day is also doing good for their eyes. Siella mentioned concern about staying outside during a snowstorm, but Dr. Bazan told her it was ok to skip those days!
Oh, speaking of outdoors, he also reminded me to have the children wear UV protective sunglasses! The sun’s harmful rays can damage young healthy eyes too.
This back-to-school season, The Vision Council encourages parents to be proactive about their children’s eye health, and schedule a comprehensive eye exam, long before their first important classroom exam. Sure, some kids may not want to wear glasses, but if that’s the case, parents should know about CooperVision Biofinity Energys, contact lenses specifically designed to help with eye tiredness and dryness – two symptoms commonly associated with digital device usage (since many kiddos and teens are glued to screens!) – that are an alternative to traditional glasses.
Dr. Bazan gave Siella’s eyes an incredibly thorough exam, even looking inside her eyes, which was totally fascinating for her. Afterwards, he outfitted her with an adorable new pair of specs from Marchon NYC, courtesy of Eyecessorize, which were ideal for her unique eye needs and style, of course. Naturally, Siella chose a pink pair! Dr. Bazan even added protective lenses to her glasses for when she does use the computer – the lenses help to filter out blue light that emanates from screens, reduce glare and magnify screen text to alleviate potential symptoms stemming from digital eye strain! With all the time I spend on the computer, I am going to look into the same protection from my eyeglasses. Psyched to see this upcoming second grader in her new pair of eyes this school year!
For more information about eyewear and eye health, visit thevisioncouncil.org.