The Importance of a Back-to-School Eye Exam

by Dagmar Bleasdale on August 11, 2014

eye exam importance, boy watching TV

{I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.}

Back-to-School Eye Exam

How many hours a day do your kids use an iPad or computer? And when was the last time your child had an eye exam?

We don’t have a Wii or any other game consoles in the house because I think kids nowadays have enough distractions.

L is already too addicted to our iPad for my taste. If I didn’t monitor his screen time, he’d playing Minecraft all day, or watch LEGO or Minecraft videos on YouTube.

The use of technology among children is on the rise, and a new survey from the American Optometric Association (AOA) shows that parents drastically underestimate the time their children spend on digital devices.

The survey reports that 83 percent of children estimate they use an electronic device for 3 or more hours each day.

Three or more hours a day? Wow. Here is an informative AOA infographic about that.

eye exam importance, AOA Infographic digital devices

Eighty percent of children surveyed report experiencing burning, itchy or tired eyes after using electronic devices for long periods of time.

These are all symptoms of digital eye strain. Other symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision, or head and neck pain. Which makes me wonder how often playing electronic devices is the reason when kids complain about headaches or neck pain, and their parents might not make that connection.

Another concern I have is the kinds of light electronic devices give off – high-energy, short-wavelength blue light.

I know that the back-to-school time is crazy with buying school supplies and new clothes, finding out the kids schedules, etc., but back-to-school eye doctor visits are so important!

It’s hard to know if kids need glasses — some children show signs and symptoms while others may not. And you want your kids to be able to see the best way possible for the new school year.

eye exam importance for kids

The AOA recommends every child have an eye exam after six months of age, before age 3, and every year thereafter.

I didn’t know this, but children now have the benefit of a yearly comprehensive eye exam thanks to the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Act, through age 18. So if you don’t have insurance or don’t think you can afford an eye exam, look into that.

In the meantime, this is what you and your kids can do to protect eyes and vision from digital eye strain:

  • When using technology, take a 20-second break every 20 minutes, and view something 20 feet away.
  • Computer screens should be 4 to 5 inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes.
  • Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. Turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen.
  • Reducing the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen.
  • Adjusting font size to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
  • Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye.

Find more information on AOA Twitter and AOA Facebook.

When was the last time your kids had an eye exam?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa @ My Recent Favorite books August 11, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Great information! Pinned!

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Dagmar Bleasdale August 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Thank you for the pin, Melissa, I really appreciate it! And yes, this is so important to keeps our kids eyes healthy.

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