Optometrist Emphasizes Importance of Having Children's Eyes Examined

World Sight Day aims to educate people worldwide
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There are children throughout the world who struggle to see and don't know they have an undetected vision issue. For those of us who can see, that's hard to imagine.

This is one of the main reasons the World Health Organization introduced World Sight Day in 1998 to help focus global attention on blindness, visual impairment and the rehabilitation of the visually impaired. Anyone involved in eye care and vision health is asked to help educate others about the issue of vision health.

Thursday, October 11 is World Sight Day and a young optometrist on the north-side of Chicago is encouraging parents to make sure their children have been properly examined, so they don't suffer the consequences of vision issues when they get to school.

"Children's eye exams are critical," said Dr. Stephanie Lyons, who opened Lyons Family Eye Care two years ago for both children and adults. "Vision problems don't always manifest as squinting.  Kids with vision issues may act out or avoid reading. The implication is that these kids may have behavioral issues and may have a hard time keeping up in school."

A few months ago, Dr. Lyons added the latest cutting edge technology, Spot vision screener, to her practice to help quickly and efficiently identify vision issues in her patients.

"Right now, we are using Spot to screen everyone under 18 years of age," said Dr. Lyons, who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and her doctorate from the Illinois College of Optometry.  "Spot has been far more accurate than the traditional auto-refractor we have been using, and definitely easier to use. It's really fast and pretty much dummy proof – anyone can learn to use it in just a few minutes."

Spot is a light, hand-held, wireless, WiFi-enabled, binocular vision screening device that can screen the vision of anyone six months of age and up in just a few seconds.

"In the past, we have spent so much time on kids because it would take a long time to screen children, especially non-verbal children," said Dr. Lyons.  "The other day, we used Spot to screen an infant.  That is something we could never have been able to do in the past with a standard auto-refractor, especially when you consider it can screen infants, non-verbal children, and patients with disabilities."

Once parents understand the negative impact poor vision can have on their children, they become more receptive and eager to have their children's eyes screened. That is the message Dr. Lyons wants to communicate to parents. Don't take your children's vision for granted. It's important to know the status of their eye sight so they can see and learn in school.

Dr. Lyons plans to take the Spot vision screener with her on her annual mission trip this year to screen children in underserved areas who would otherwise never have the opportunity to be screened and examined.

"For volunteer work, Spot is priceless for screenings," said Dr. Lyons.