CLARKS SUMMIT, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The back-to-school to-do list usually includes new clothing, new school supplies and perhaps a haircut. But does it include a child eye exam?
Eye doctors will tell you vision problems often go unnoticed until children start school. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller visited an eye doctor’s office for what you need to know to make sure your child’s vision is on-point.
Before six-year-old Noah Doran takes a seat in his first-grade classroom, he’s got one in the eye doctor’s office. Noah’s mom brought him to Northeastern Eye Institute in Clarks Summit to check for conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness or blurred vision. Each is considered a refractive vision problem which almost one in four children has but doesn’t get fixed.
“He had a difficult time last year so I wanted to get his eyes checked to make sure that there’s no issues there,” said Kaylee Doran who is Noah’s mother.
Pediatric Optometrist Beth Flickinger, OD checks the vision of children like Noah with three goals in mind.
“Are their eyes clear, are their eyes straight and are their eyes healthy,” she said.
It’s estimated vision screening tests at school miss up to 60 percent of children’s treatable vision problems which an eye doctor can better detect. Dr. Flickinger said, “If their eye muscles aren’t acting perfectly, they’re not going to perform well in school and they may be mislabeled just as if they didn’t have the proper glasses. They may be mislabeled with an attention and/or learning issue.”
Dr. Flickinger says some children require eye exercises, eyeglasses or both. In Noah’s case, the diagnosis is hyperopia or farsightedness. He’s leaving the eye doctor’s office with a prescription for eyeglasses. As for his brother Nicholas who’s starting kindergarten, he passed his eye exam. Their mom is relieved knowing both of her sons are equipped to make the grade.
“It’s important that they can see and comprehend and have all the right tools to succeed while they’re there,” said Ms. Doran.
It’s important to note that even a small change in vision can cause eye strain and affect a child’s classroom performance. Here are nine signs your child may need a proper eye exam:
1) Complaining of headaches
2) Squinting or closing one eye
3) Blinking or rubbing eyes
4) Becoming fatigued after reading
5) Poor reading ability and comprehension
6) Loss of place while reading
7) Holding electronic devices or books too close to eyes
8) Poor school performance
9) Poor sports performance