2011-08-17 / School & Sports

Make sure child takes the test to help pass all the rest

by Barbara Myers

For many, the first day of school is rapidly approaching or has already come. Parents know there is so much to be done to ensure that their child has all of the necessary tools to succeed this school year. A key part of this success starts with healthy eyesight in the classroom.

A child’s ability to see the blackboard and the words on a page clearly is critical to their learning experience. Prevent Blindness Georgia has declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness month in an effort to encourage parents to learn about ways they can help protect their child’s vision.

Often children do not realize they have problems with their vision because they think how they see is how everyone else sees. They learn to compensate for their vision problems without fixing them, which can lead to more problems in school and later in life. Unfortunately, some students are misdiagnosed as having a learning disability or behavioral problems when they may simply have vision impairment. This confusion can be eliminated by taking a child for a certified vision screening or an eye exam.

“Vision problems af- fect one in four schoolaged children. We want all parents to make sure their child’s eye problems do not go unnoticed this school year,” said Jenny Pomeroy, CEO of Prevent Blindness Georgia. “A child should not have to struggle in school because of an undetected vision problem.”

Eye problems can range from common refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, to serious eye conditions including:

Amblyopia or “lazy eye” is the most common cause of visual impairment in children. As the brain develops and receives diminished images from the affected eye, it begins to suppress those images and favor the unaffected eye. If this condition persists, the weaker eye may become useless. Amblyopia becomes more difficult to treat effectively as the child becomes older.

Strabismus or “crossed eyes” is a condition where eyes are misaligned, or do not line up with each other. This problem is caused when the muscles do not work together. Strabismus may eventually lead to amblyopia. Approximately one in 50 children has strabismus.

Parents should hit the books as well to learn more about how to keep their children’s eyes healthy. Prevent Blindness America has created “Star Pupils,” a free program specifically designed to educate parents on what they can do to ensure healthy eyesight for their kids. Parents may visit Starpupils.org and receive free information on everything from common eye conditions in children to tips on how to protect eyes from injury while playing sports.

For more information on children’s eye health and safety, please call Prevent Blindness Georgia at 404- 266-2020 or log on to www.pbga.org.

Prevent Blindness

Georgia

Dedicated to eliminating preventable blindness, Prevent Blindness Georgia was founded in 1965 as the state affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization. With a focus on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness Georgia touches the lives of thousands of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, and community and patient service programs. To donate to the good work of Prevent Blindness Georgia, visit www.pbga.org or call 404- 266-2020.

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