Focusing on children’s eye health as they head back to school


Parents may want to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for their child as they prepare to head back to school.

Dr. Thomas Keenan of Valley Health Eye Specialists in Winchester said most vision problems can be corrected if caught early enough.

“By the age of five if we see these patients, there’s therapy we can go ahead and occlude or cover the good eye with a patch force them to use the bad eye, and about 95 percent of the time they end up being corrected and having pretty normal vision,” Keenan said. 

That’s why getting your child’s eyes examined may be a good task to add to your back to school to do list. Anna Kemp of Winchester says getting her daughter Sophia’s eyes checked was a priority especially with school starting in a few days. 

“They spend their days looking at boards, sometimes in screens at school so for us it was really important that she is able to maximize her learning when she’s at school and to be able to really absorb and follow along with everything that’s going on,” Kemp said. 

Keenan, who’s been in pediatric ophthalmology since 1968, said over the years, schools have gotten better with including eye exams in their back-to-school checkups. He says in many cases they send children to him and through examination he is able to discover other things that may be affecting a child’s learning.

“Some are actually referrals from the school because maybe the child is not doing as well in school as they should generally they may have some mild to learning disability,” Keenan said. 

 He says parents shouldn’t be alarmed as their child’s vision changes as they develop.

“In lower grades everything is basically reading and their near vision is fine, so it’s not uncommon to find the first of your child when their in the third grade because that’s the time the teacher starts writing on the board, the kids say hey I can’t see,” he said. 

But he’s glad parents are being proactive in making sure their children walk into the school year seeing clearly. 

“It’s part of their learning so if there is some sort of deficiency  or something that needs to be corrected, it’s something that we would want to get corrected well before the school year starts,” Kemp said.

August is designated as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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