September 1, 2014

Include eye exam on back-to-school list

Parents are being encouraged to take their children to the eye doctor before heading back to school.

It’s crucial that kids entering kindergarten receive a comprehensive eye exam from a licensed eye doctor. “It’s as important as everything that comes in their back back, in fact, it’s more so.”

Dr. John Bonsett-Veal is Wisconsin Optometric Association (WOA) Communications Chair and a former past president of the Association. Approximately 80 percent of a child’s ability to learn in the first 12 years of life comes from having good vision. Bonsett-Veal says, “They’ll learn better, they’ll behave better, they’ll absorb more, they’ll be better students, and they’ll have better careers in their future, as well.”

Kids might not be able to recognize when they have a vision problem if they have never experienced perfect vision. Common signs of a vision problem may include: losing place while reading, rubbing eyes, headaches, consistently performing below potential, struggling to complete homework, squinting, behavioral problems, and holding reading material real close.

A basic school vision screening is not as thorough as a comprehensive professional examination. An optometrist examines eye sight as well as eye health. Bonsett-Veal says, “We check for things like eye cancer, retinal bleeding, detachments … it’s a complete wellness eye physical.”

Several vision and health conditions can be corrected, if detected and treated early.

Wisconsin’s current Children’s Vision Law states all Wisconsin public school districts are required to request that parents of kindergarteners have their child’s eyes examined by a professional. Low-income families without vision insurance can contact the WOA’s VISION USA – The Wisconsin Project program, which provides exams at no cost to those who qualify.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:37