**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
- 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:
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!