What Do You Mean My Kid Needs Glasses??!!

pexels-photo-914931.jpegThe other day the cutest little girl came in for her first eye exam. She was starting third grade and was an excellent student reading above grade level. Her parents were sure she didn’t need glasses but thought it was time for her to start having routine eye exams. She was articulate and outspoken and wanted to be done with her visit so she could get on with her day. She read the eye chart in her right eye all the way down to the tiniest letter and was eager to do the same on the left eye. To everyone’s surprise she struggled, barely getting down to the second to last line, guessing and growing frustrated as she realized something wasn’t right. She also had some trouble seeing in 3D which indicated that her two eyes were not working together. At the end of the exam I told her parents that although her right eye was perfect she was hyperopic, or farsighted in her left eye and the large discrepancy between the two eyes had created amblyopia (lazy eye) in that left eye. She left with a new pair of glasses and a follow-up appointment in three months.

80% of learning is visual – if your child does not see well he or she will not do well in school. Sometimes kids are unable to realize or articulate that something is wrong – either they will think that whatever they are experiencing is normal or they just won’t complain. Vision screenings at the pediatrician are not a substitute for a full and comprehensive eye exam. Eye exams are recommended at the age of six months (by specialized infantsee providers) and subsequently yearly after the age of three. Early use of iPads and other digital devices creates a new challenge for children’s developing visual systems and seeing well involves more than just seeing 20/20 on an eye chart. Evaluation of tracking, eye teaming and convergence are crucial to ensuring optimal ocular performance and subsequent academic success.

kids-girl-pencil-drawing-159823.jpegThis little girl and her family were lucky that she was doing so well in school despite her amblyopia and suboptimal visual system. Don’t wait until your child complains or you get a note sent home from the school nurse or your child’s teacher – book your childs yearly exam now before the school year gets underway.

Are video games bad for your eyes?

person holding game pads
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The president of China, Xi Jinping, seems to think so. The Xinhua News Agency came out with an article this past week that stated that since the “vision health of our country’s young people has always been a great concern” to Xi Jinping, the country is going to start limiting the number of new online video games available for sale. A recent study found that there was a 12% prevalence of myopia (or nearsightedness) in first grade children, a number that jumped to 67.4% by seventh grade. Excessive reading and/or prolonged near point work has long been a contender in the lineup of reasons for why nearsightedness develops, and the Chinese have glommed onto the specific near point activity of gaming as an activity to limit in order to curtail the myopic epidemic.

There are many theories as to why myopia develops, and there is no one culprit to blame. Genetics play a role as does lack of spending time outdoors and near point stress from prolonged reading as well as the digital world that we now inhabit. Doctors are reluctant to blame any one thing for the development of myopia and many do not agree with China’s video game restriction. Instead of totally banning video games, parents should rather limit screen time and encourage their children to play outside. Kids (and adults) should also be encouraged to follow the 20/20/20 rule – every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds. As you can imagine gaming industry stock dropped in response to China’s announcement….

focus photo of super mario luigi and yoshi figurines
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