Now that a new school year has begun, parents need to know that one of the main factors that can affect their children’s grades in school could be something the parents have overlooked, i.e., the deterioration of eyesight in young children. When it comes to detecting decrease in eyesight, children suffer two distinct disadvantages when compared to adults:
In contrast to an adult, whose glasses prescription is generally stable and unchanging for years, a child’s prescription can worsen dramatically from year to year (sometimes even over a few months). Unless parents understand this and take the proper precautions and close monitoring, their children may continue to wear glasses with out-of-date and inaccurate prescriptions, and as a result, they are not able to see the blackboard in schools clearly, which could cause a drop in academic performance.
To make matters worse, children who experience this type of decrease in vision typically do not tell their parents about it!
So what should parents of young children do then, to make sure their vision needs are up-to-date? I suggest the following 3 keys:
Education: Learn more about the natural history of prescription change in children so the parents can understand what is going on with their children’s vision and visual system development.
Observation: Parents should learn how to recognize typical behaviors of children who are not seeing well, such as starting to squint, wanting to sit closer to the television, and becoming less attentive in the classroom, accompanied often with a drop in school academic performance.
Proper update of prescription: Children should have eye exams every 6-12 months by reputable ophthalmologists or optometrists so that new glasses or contacts with updated prescriptions can be prescribed in a timely manner, if needed.
An important aspect of a child’s eye care that should be pointed out here is that the consequences of wearing glasses with improper prescriptions can be dramatically different for adults and children. While an adult’s eyesight can be restored by a subsequent adjustment in his/her glasses prescription, a child may actually NEVER be able to see well again with such an adjustment later, if he/she has worn glasses with an improper prescription for a prolonged period of time. Depending on a child’s age, due to his/her developing and evolving brain visual system, his/her lack of clarity of vision as a result of wearing glasses with improper prescription, could in some cases actually result in a permanent loss of sight (amblyopia or lazy eye), even if glasses with the proper prescription are provided later on!
With regard to LASIK or SMILE laser vision procedures, the minimal age is 18. Hence, I tell all of my patients who are parents to make sure that their children always have constantly upgraded prescriptions in their glasses or contact lenses and maintain good ocular health with a regular eye doctor’s visit, so when these children are 18 years of age, they can then be evaluated for LASIK or SMILE and be freed of dependence on the glasses or contact lenses!
Ming Wang, MD, PhD, is the director of Wang Vision 3D Cataract & LASIK Center and CEO of Aier-USA. He can be reached at 1801 West End Ave, Ste 1150, Nashville, TN, 37203, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.wangcataractLASIK.com.
Don’t miss Dr. Ming Wang’s upcoming FREE vision seminar on Oct 12th at 6:30pm at Embassy Suites, 1811 Broadway Nashville, TN. At this seminar, Dr. Wang will talk about your children’s eyesight and its effect on their school performance.