PeeChees, Trapper Keepers and backpacks, oh my! Here’s one more thing to add to your back-to-school list: an annual eye exam.
August is National Child Eye Health and Safety Month, a good time to schedule regular eye exams for your children and get them set for school.
“Many parents don’t realize how early a child should get his or her first eye exam,” says Dr. Rossman, who notes that toddlers should have their eyes checked as soon as they can walk but most definitely before starting school.
“Don’t wait until you think something’s wrong to have a child’s eyes examined,” says Dr. Rossman. “Think of it as a just another facet of well-child check-ups.”
Like going to the dentist, an eye exam may make some children nervous the first time, says Dr. Rossman. “They might squirm a bit.” If necessary, an exam may be split into two visits – one to familiarize the child with the office and do some basic testing, and a second visit for dilation.
Children’s eyes will be dilated so that Dr. Rossman can more closely assess its structural health. Pre-verbal children will have the choice of several picture-based eye charts if they don’t know their letters yet.
An exam for older kids and teens will include discussion of any sports or activities they’re involved in, and if different correction or safety lenses are appropriate. “In general, people should not use their daily wear glasses for active sports,” says Dr. Rossman. “After talking with the child and parent we may determine that Rec Specs or contact lenses are more appropriate for their sports and activities – or sometimes, it’s better to leave the glasses at home all together.”
When school starts, parents should pay attention to their student’s homework. “The number one sign that a child or teen’s eyes need to be checked is avoidance of reading,” says Dr. Rossman. He adds that most kids also complain of headaches and while it’s definitely something that should be checked out if it persists, it doesn’t always lead to a prescription for glasses.
Frames for small children start at under $100 and the staff recommends a polycarbonate lens for safety. Children do grow out of glasses – just like shoes – so they should be rechecked if a child starts to express discomfort or they look noticeably small.
It’s normal for a child to feel a little trepidation at their first eye exam, but our staff do this every day and will quickly put them at ease.
And just like the dentist, they’ll get a toy at the end.