Notebooks and binders, pens and pencils, a new lunch box and backpack, a new outfit — the staples of a typical back-to-school shopping list.
However, one of the most important items to get your child ready to return to the classroom is often overlooked, and that is their eye health. To help identify — and potentially rectify — eyesight problems early, children should have their eyes examined annually, and there is no better time to have that exam done than right before a return to school.
“Poor eyesight can lead to serious academic challenges if left untreated,” says Bijan Minbashian, Vice President of Operationsat Hakim Optical. “An annual eye exam will test your child for near- or far-sightedness, depth of vision, colour perception, eye coordination, lazy eye and focusing ability. This will help ensure they can see instructions written on the SmartBoard or vital information from their text books.”
The Canadian Association of Optometrists estimates that as many as a quarter of children have a learning difficulty that is related to vision challenges. When a child is straining his or her eyes in the classroom, it can lead to headaches, blurred vision, fatigue and eyestrain — and those are likely to be reflected on the report card as well.
Classroom eyesight problems can be compounded with the amount of schoolwork now being done using electronic devices. Children’s eyes are particularly sensitive to the blue light that emanates from tablets, smartphones and computer screens, and should be protected.
But it can be hard for parents to identify when their child may be having vision problems — sometimes the child isn’t aware that the way they are seeing the world is not the way it is supposed to be seen. The following warning signs that could indicate some correction is necessary:
• Complaining of frequent headaches, eye pain or squinting/rubbing their eyes.
• Issues with school, including paying attention during lessons or a sudden drop in grades.
• Holding reading material close to their eyes or sitting close to computer or TV screens.
“If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it could be a symptom of deteriorating eye health,” says Minbashian. “Please schedule an eye exam as soon as possible and help ensure your child’s vision is the best it can be.”