Parents are making their back-to-school lists and checking them twice. In addition to notebooks, pencils and clothes, one crucial addition should be a comprehensive eye exam.
Kentucky law requires children ages 3 through 6 to have a vision exam if they are entering a public school or preschool program for the first time.
“One of the most important things parents can do to support their children’s education and good health is scheduling them for a comprehensive eye exam,” said Dr. Tina Kreutzer, an optometrist in Shepherdsville, Ky. “Research shows that vision problems are a major factor in limiting children’s abilities to learn and succeed.”
Up to 13 percent of children age 5 and younger have some type of vision condition. After age 5, that number increases to 25 percent.
“All parents should have their children’s eyes examined because many problems may not be obvious to them or their children’s teachers,” Kreutzer said. “Young children don’t realize that the way they see the world may not be the way it should be. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent loss of sight from amblyopia, which is commonly called lazy eye. Unfortunately, 50 percent of all cases of amblyopia are not diagnosed until after age 5, when it is difficult to correct.”
Amblyopia is the leading cause of vision loss in people under age 40 — more than injuries or any
other disease. However, it is almost 100 percent treatable if detected early.
Kreutzer also said an eye examination is particularly important if your child exhibits any of these signs of possible eye problems:
Loses his place while reading, holds the book closer than normal or uses his finger to maintain his place while reading.
Avoids close work.
Tends to rub her eyes.
Complains of frequent headaches.
Turns or tilts his head, or squints, to use only one eye.
Omits or confuses small words when reading aloud.
Consistently performs below academic potential.
Many private insurance plans, Medicaid and KCHIP cover these exams. A comprehensive eye exam and glasses also are an essential benefit under the Affordable Care Act.
In addition, private programs are available to help families meet these expenses, such as the Kentucky Vision Project, which is sponsored by the Kentucky Optometric Association and has donated millions of dollars in vision care. Sight for Students and the Lion’s Club are other programs that can help.
To find an optometrist in your area, please visit www.kyeyes.org.
About the Kentucky Optometric Association:
Doctors of optometry are located in 106 counties in Kentucky. They are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient’s overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor’s degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care.