As I sat editing articles on pediatric eyecare for our July issue, I realized my 11-year-old son was overdue for an eye exam. Even so, less than three weeks before school started, I hadn’t scheduled one. As it turns out, I’m not the only parent not to do so (though as editor-in-chief of an optometric magazine I should know better).
In July, the American Optometric Association released new clinical guidelines for pediatric eyecare. Among them: Children ages 6 to 18 should receive a comprehensive eye exam before beginning first grade and then annually. But, a new survey by VSP Vision Care and YouGov showed that half the parents in the U.S. do not take their children for back-to-school eye exams.
It’s not that we don’t take our children’s eyesight seriously; three out of four individuals who responded to VSP’s survey said they consider sight the most valuable of all the senses.
In my case, I simply forgot. Parents responding to VSP’s survey also skipped taking their children for eye exams because they assumed that the school vision screening is the same as a comprehensive exam, they don’t have vision insurance, or they wait until something is wrong.
Often, they simply aren’t aware of when their children should receive an exam. Consider: Fewer than one in 10 parents responding to the VSP survey knew that children should have an eye exam at age 6 months. Also, one in five did not take their children for their first eye exam until they were of school age, and one in 10 have never taken their children.
Ironically, the public school code in my state (Pennsylvania) lists requirements for medical and dental examinations, yet nowhere could I find any requirements for an eye examination. This is despite the AOA’s estimates that one in four children have vision problems that can negatively impact their classroom performance.
Although the profession has taken steps to increase public awareness—the Think About Your Eyes campaign is one example—further education is needed. What can you do in your practices?
Jeffrey Eisenberg | Editor-In-Chief | JE@VisionCareProducts.com