Back to School Eye Exams ~ Why They Are Important! #AOA

Posted by Jenna | Tuesday, August 12, 2014

**I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It's August and Back to School time is almost here! Can you believe it?! It's a busy time for families...getting in all of the last minute trips, shopping and of course preparing for the next eight months of school with making sure all the kids have had the appointments they need!

I know many people deal with back to school season differently, but I like to spread things out so we're not as rushed and can still enjoy the last few weeks of summer that we have left. I try to shop on the clearance racks at the end of each season so they have most of the clothes they'll need once school starts. I also try to scatter their appointments throughout the year...then by the time the new school year begins...they're set. For me, this includes doctor's dentists and even the eye doctor. 

My kids have had several eye checks between the optometrist and the school and for that I am thankful. It's hard to know sometimes if someone needs glasses. Some children will show signs and some don't. My kids do not have contacts or glasses, but I do. When I was in preschool I had my eyes checked for the first time, and it was then that they found one of my eyes was weaker than the other. That's how it has been my whole life and I'm thankful to my parents for getting it checked when they did...because otherwise they would never have known! 

My experience is why I felt passionate about being apart of this campaign through Mom Central and the American Optometric Association to help share the importance of back to school eye exams. In today's world, I feel it's especially important with the screen time many kids have. My kids use ipads and ipods from time to time and I know this puts strain on their eyes. Knowing this, I try to monitor their screen time. We have an incentive chart where they earn 10 minutes for every 20 minutes of school work/educational related activities - which usually leads to a max of 30 minutes a day, if that. This has really helped me keep a handle on how much their little eyes are in front of the screen. I also try to remember to practice the 20-20-20 rule...when using technology take a 20 second break, ever 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.

The use of technology among children is also on the rise in the classroom. A new survey from the American Optometric Association shows that parents drastically underestimate the time their children spend on digital devices. It reports that 83 percent of children between ages 10 and 17 use an electronic device for three or more hours each day. And, 80 percent of children surveyed report experiences burning, itchy or tired eyes after using electronic devices for long periods of time. I believe it, as my eyes got the same way, especially in college when I was in front of a computer much more than I was used to. The following are symptoms of digital eye strain, a temporary vision condition caused by prolonged use of technology.:

  • itchy eyes
  • burning eyes
  • tired eyes
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • loss of focus
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • head/neck pain

Optometrists are also growing concerned about the kinds of light everyday electronic devices give off - high energy, short-wavelength blue light, and how those rays might affect and even age the eyes. This is one thing I hadn't thought about before, but even more of a reason to limit their time in front of the screen and get their eyes checked every year. 

The AOA recommends these things to help prevent or reduce eye and vision problems associated with eye strain and exposure to blue light: 
o      Checking the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
o      Checking for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or changing its background color.
o      Reducing the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give flexible control of room lighting.
o      Adjusting font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
o      Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of the eye moist.

And of course comprehensive eye exams by an optometrist are essential! The AOA recommends every child have an eye exam by an optometrist soon after 6 months of ages, before age three and every year thereafter. Children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye examps thanks to the Pediatric Essential Healthy Benefit in the Affordable Care Act, through age 18. 

As you get your family ready for back to school,  I would encourage you to learn more about the importance of getting a comprehensive eye exam done every year if you don't already and help spread the word!

You can connect with the AOA on Twitter and Facebook.

  1. rj7777 August 15, 2014 at 9:42 PM  

    I never had to wear glasses and I always had great eyes until I got older. Now I have a cataract in each eye and they have to get so big before they remove them. It seems that my eyesight went bad so fast. I wear contacts and glasses to see close. Everyone who has great eyesight should appreciate it. Rita Spratlen

  2. slehan August 24, 2014 at 4:08 PM  

    I've always worn glasses and get my eyes checked every year since I have a small cataract in one eye. Vision is so important.

    slehan at juno dot com

  3. 調解員 August 29, 2014 at 7:46 AM  

    Thanks this made for interesting reading. These are hard to come by , now mixed network can insight into this site really is not easy.Thank you very much

  4. LauraJJ September 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM  

    Oh this was really informative for me! I didnt know much about the blue light...and how it can affect and age our eyes! Really good tips about the height and position! My monitor I actually look up to....not down. I am going to have to rearrange here!

  5. Shelly Peterson September 6, 2014 at 10:10 PM  

    I have not had my sons eyes checked in a long time, I need to do that. Thanks for sharing this information.

  6. Cut Out Image December 7, 2016 at 4:04 AM  

    Such informative post always my prefer .

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