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Annual Screenings Important in Early Detection of Vision Disorders

As the saying goes, "nobody’s perfect." Not even our kids whom we’d like to think of as terrific in every way. When it comes to eyesight, 25% don’t meet the goal of 20/20 vision and need glasses to see properly.

Reminiscent of the ‘shoemaker’s son who goes barefoot’, years ago I took my then seven year old to a Philadelphia Flyer’s game. After a thrilling goal, I pointed to the Jumbotron to watch the replay. Following my finger upwards, his response was "what Jumbotron?" After getting over my embarrassment, this eye doctor promptly prescribed new glasses for his son.

Good vision is essential for proper physical development and educational progress in growing children. If a growing child’s eyes do not provide a clear, focused image to the developing brain, irreversible loss of vision in one or both eyes may result. Vision screening by pediatricians, family physicians, school nurses and trained professionals is the first step toward making sure every child sees his or her way to adulthood.

Vision screening can detect the major problems of childhood, such as crossed and lazy eyes and the need for glasses. Referral to an ophthalmologist occurs when a child fails the screening process. Treatment can prevent lifelong loss of vision, better academic performance and overall well-being for the child.

Children with a family history of crossed and/or lazy eye and significant eyeglass needs are of special concern and should be readily referred to an ophthalmologist.

Learning disabilities are of great interest to many parents. Vision problems interfere with the process of learning. However, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities. Scientific evidence does not support the value of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance of children with these disorders.