Three Reasons Why Eye Exams Should Top 2012 Back-to-School Checklists

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Pencils, notepads and calculators top back-to-school checklists each year; however, eyecare professionals advise that these tools are only as effective as the healthy eyes that use them. Many experts believe that 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes, making a comprehensive eye exam one of the most important ways parents can give their child the best chance at success this school year.

According to VSP optometrist Ryan S. Nakamura, OD, of Natomas Optometry in Sacramento, Calif., the following are three reasons why a comprehensive eye exam should top students' and parents' back-to-school checklists:

1. One in four children has an undetected vision condition. A child doesn't know what good vision is if he or she has never experienced it. Because eye health plays a major role in academic growth, it's common for vision problems to be mistaken as a learning disability. Undetected vision conditions can negatively impact learning development and contribute to frustrated students, poor grades and behavioral issues. 

2.  Comprehensive eye exams detect what school vision screenings cannot. A common misconception is that an in-school vision screening is a sufficient, comprehensive eye exam. While in-school screenings do help identify some vision problems, such as near and farsightedness, they do not test for all of the problems that a comprehensive eye exam can detect like diabetes and hypertension – both growing health concerns for children. Two of the most common vision problems a screening can miss are eye coordination and lazy eye.

3. Children's eyes develop rapidly.  A child's eyes develop continuously until about the age of seven – making early detection essential in correcting potentially permanent vision issues. Many eyecare professionals recommend a comprehensive eye examination at six months of age, before a child enters preschool, and again before beginning kindergarten, then every year following that. Unfortunately, 76 percent of children haven't had a comprehensive eye exam by age five.

"Comprehensive vision care is an essential prerequisite to a year of learning," said Dr. Nakamura. "From focusing on books or computer screens to viewing the whiteboard or even a soccer ball, students utilize and develop visual skills all day long. If they can't see their best, they simply can't perform or learn their best." 

For more information about the importance of vision care for children and their families, including videos and doctor interviews, visit SeeMuchMore.com.