Alamo Optometry Blog

August 1, 2008

Back to School

Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: — admin @ 11:11 pm

(As appeared in Alamo Today August 2008 edition, pg.24)

It seems like yesterday that our kids got out of school. Now as we turn the calendar to August, it is time to start thinking about back to school and going off to college. For most parents, including myself, that usually means stocking up on clothes and school supplies. In addition to these necessities to start school off on the right foot, it is important to have an eye exam on your list.

Good and comfortable vision gives your child the first tool in learning and doing well in school. Since a large amount of learning is done through the eyes, if your child has difficulty seeing the board or their up-close work, they will not start off the year right. In a pediatric exam, I determine the child’s prescription, eye health, peripheral vision, and eye teaming and movement skills; at a first visit, I also test depth perception and color vision. Here are some common refractive and binocular vision disorders that can hinder vision, and therefore the ability to learn.

Myopia is commonly referred to as near-sightedness. That means that without any correction, a person has difficulty seeing in the distance. This is very common among students, and tends to progress as the child gets older. Blurry distance vision will hinder things such as taking notes in class, sports, and driving. This can easily be addressed with contacts or glasses.

Hyperopia, or far-sightedness, is the opposite of myopia. If you are far-sighted, it is easier for you to see distance than up close. Since you need to focus more up close than you do far away, a hyperope usually has near vision problems. Being in a constant state of “focusing” can lead to headaches, eyestrain, and early fatigue. Sometimes the problem is more complicated, but most of the time reading glasses for homework can make a huge improvement.

Astigmatism, unlike the prior conditions, typically affects distance and near vision equally. Astigmatism means that the cornea, the clear front part of your eye, is shaped more oblong than spherical. Because it is steeper in one direction, when light comes into the eye, it doesn’t come to one single point of focus. It can cause distorted and uncomfortable vision; however, astigmatism can typically be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Binocular vision disorders are those that involve the muscles and movements of the eyes, and how well they work together. If the eyes are turned or have the tendency to do so, or don’t “team” well, sustained focusing can cause objects to appear blurry, distorted, and possibly double. These conditions can be very difficult for the parents to identify, because in some cases, the child may see 20/20 and not have any noticeable vision problems. However, it can be very frustrating because the student or adult for that matter, will have difficulty with sustained near-task work, which can lead to early fatigue, headaches, and avoidance of the task altogether.

As a whole, most screenings at your child’s pediatrician office or school will reveal if your child needs an eye exam. However, they generally do not have the knowledge or expertise to ascertain some of the above-mentioned conditions. Parents always ask when they should have their kids’ eyes checked. Sometimes an exam is needed as early as 6 months of age, however, that is rare. Preschool age is generally a good time to have your child checked. Your child does not need to know his/her letters to do the exam; the prescription can be arrived at without the active participation of the patient. I do recommend a first exam before kindergarten at the latest. Kids accept the world that is presented to them because they have nothing else to compare it against. If objects are blurry, they assume that is how it is until it is proven in the exam room that they should be seeing much better. Our office and staff are very kid-friendly; we all have children of our own and there are toys and books to make the children more comfortable.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo.

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