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Back to School Eye Exams

Studies have found that 80% of learning is visual. Clear and comfortable vision is an important component of learning that helps drive academic, social, and athletic success.

School nurse or pediatrician office screenings are great at flagging students who have a difficult time seeing at a distance. There are, however, children who may pass a screening by straining their eyes. There are children who can see well far away, but whose eyes fatigue quickly with increased near tasks like reading or doing homework due to farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism, and/or focusing issues. The info-graphic below provides some examples of how a child may see and process written words yet still pass a vision screening.

A child may not even realize that they have a vision problem. Vision is not something that we are taught. Since there is no reference point, many children think that the way they see is normal, so they will not tell their parent or guardian know that they have difficulty seeing or reading. Instead, a child having difficulty seeing clearly may complain of headaches or show signs of avoiding near tasks like homework or coloring, holding books too close, difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, head tilting, eye turns, eye rubbing, tiring easily and more.

Your eye doctor will test for many things during a pediatric eye exam, including but not limited to: visual acuity, eye focusing, eye tracking, eye teaming, eye alignment, eye health, hand-eye coordination, and visual perception skills.

Many classrooms now utilize digital devices like tablets and laptops as a teaching tool. As technology advances and digital devices become more accessible, an increasing amount of children have their own portable digital device. Books, videos, games, TV shows, and movies are all moving to an online/digital platform.

Providing children with a tablet or a smart phone to watch movies or play games has become a widespread and common practice. Increased digital device usage may be contributing to the increasing nearsightedness in children while causing digital eye strain.

prevalence study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, found that "the number of preschool children with visual impairment is projected to increase by 26% in 2060, with 69% of visual impairment resulting from simple uncorrected refractive error." As nearsightedness or myopia rises, "vision screening and early intervention targeting preschool populations might prevent unnecessary visual impairment and associated developmental delays such as poor reading skills."

Blue light protection glasses, anti-fatigue lenses, and limiting screen time are easy steps that parents can take to reduce digital eye strain.

In today's digital world, we recommend annual eye exams for all school-aged children. To schedule an eye exam for your child, teenager, or college student, give us a call at 713-838-2020.


Dr. Erica Ngo

About the Author

Dr. Erica Ngo, O.D. is an optometrist fascinated by dry eye disease, ocular surface disease, and digital eye health. Dr. Erica Ngo is passionate about protecting and preserving eye health with a focus on aesthetics, makeup, and fashion. On her free time she enjoys latin dancing, food, travelling, and playing with her fluffy companion. She lives in Houston and is always looking for ways to explore and give back to her community.

Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee

About the Editor

Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee is an optometrist and the co-founder of Vision Optique. She is passionate about helping people see better and live better lives, and inspiring other eye care professionals. Dr. Shen Lee writes and lectures on the topics of Digital Eye Health, Dry Eye Disease, Health Care Social Media, and Aesthetic Optometry.  She also enjoys raising her young daughters to be global citizens and volunteering her time and talent at schools and in the Houston community.