After a long summer full of sleeping in, trips to the zoo, and having as much fun as possible, as often as possible, going back to school can be a pretty intense change in your routine. There are dozens of things to do to get ready, including shopping for school supplies, possibly some new outfits, going to visit the school, trying to get into a new sleep schedule, and more. Another important step in getting ready for going back to school that many parents may not consider is getting their child a back to school eye exam.

In today’s blog, we’ll go over some important reasons why kids should get an eye exam before going back to school, when kids should get their first eye exam, and how to identify vision problems in your kids. Dr. Sina J. Sabet, an ophthalmologist in Alexandria, is passionate about helping everyone in the family get the eye care they need. Whether your child is going into preschool or kindergarten, middle school or highschool, having an understanding of their eye health can be incredibly beneficial when their education is concerned. Give our ophthalmologist a call today to schedule your back to school eye exam.

Reasons For a Back to School Eye Exam

Increased Eye Strain

As your child grows and moves from one grade level to the next, especially when transitioning from kindergarten into first grade and through their primary years, their vision demands will increase. The amount of reading and homework that is required will increase and print size will decrease, adding stress to their eyes. When there are underlying problems, it may only make them worse. When you visit an ophthalmologist, they can detect any issues and offer treatment or eyewear solutions before it affects their school performance.

Early Detection

Like we mentioned above, scheduling an eye exam with your local Alexandria ophthalmologist can help identify any potential issues. When it comes to eye health, early detection is essential in order to ensure that your child gets the treatment they need. Certain issues, such as lazy eye or strabismus (misalignment of the eyes, or crossed eyes), can be treated when they are caught early on. Your eye doctor will also look for issues such as convergence insufficiency, focusing problems, poor depth perception, color blindness, and other more serious eye health problems.

School Screenings Aren’t Enough

A school vision screening will typically only conduct a visual acuity test, which is when your child will read off letters on a paper at a certain distance away. While this test can determine if they have far or nearsightedness, it doesn’t test for how well the eyes work together to focus on a single object, and it doesn’t test for any actual eye health issues. A thorough test with an ophthalmologist will ensure that your child’s eyes are healthy and can support their learning in school.

Improve Social Interactions

When children are struggling with blurry vision, or if they have a lazy eye, it can cause feelings of self consciousness or a lack of confidence. Both of these feelings can have a significant impact on their overall experience at school, both in the classroom and outside. When your child has the tools they need to be successful at school, such as glasses or contacts, they are more likely to feel confident, be more social with other kids, and improve their school performance.

When Should Kids Get Their First Eye Exam?

Infants should have a comprehensive eye exam completed when they are around six months old. Their next eye exams should take place at age three, and then again before they go into first grade, which is usually around five or six years old. If you’re worried about your three-year-old having to read off letters, it’s okay. For younger patients who may not feel comfortable with their ABCs yet, our eye doctors use images instead of letters to test their eyesight. Dr. Sina J. Sabet and his team will do what we can to make sure your child feels comfortable in our office.

After these initial visits, your child should have an eye exam completed by an ophthalmologist every one to two years. Generally, if there aren’t any vision issues and if there isn’t a family history of vision or certain health problems, then once every two years is enough. However, if your family has a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or if your child has farsightedness or nearsightedness and needs prescription glasses, then a visit to the eye doctor every year may be necessary.

How to Identify Vision Problems

There are a few tell-tale signs that your child may be struggling with vision problems and it’s important to be able to recognize these signs as your kid may not voice any concerns.

  • Frequently squinting to read something.
  • Holding a book too close.
  • Frequently rubbing their eyes.
  • A short attention span.
  • Struggling with eye-hand-body coordination skills.
  • They avoid activities with small details, such as puzzles or coloring.

If you have noticed any of these issues or if your child hasn’t had an eye exam completed by an ophthalmologist, get in touch with Dr. Sina J. Sabet in Alexandria. We’ll make sure your child has everything they need to have a successful school year.