LANSING, Mich. (KSNT/WLNS) – As you’re running around trying to check items off your back to school list, there’s one thing you might want to consider adding: an eye exam.
With mandatory doctor visits for vaccinations and school athletics, a visit to the eye doctor may seem like overkill for your kids.
However, experts say an eye exam could be the key to their academic success, since a child’s eyes are one of the most important tools for learning.
“One in four children have an undiagnosed vision problem,” said Dr. Jessica Mai, an optometrist for Genstler Eye Care in Topeka, Kansas.
Michigan state law requires local health departments to offer periodic free screenings for vision, which examine clearness of vision and eye muscle balance.
The 10 percent to 15 percent of Michigan children who fail the eye exam each year are referred to an eye doctor.
Vision problems can hinder how well your child reads or comprehends in the classroom.
“In fact there’s some studies that show that visual functions or visual related problems, if gone undetected are actually a better predictor of academic failure than things like socioeconomic status,” said Dr. Mai.
An annual eye exam can ensure your child won’t fall behind.
“A really good example is my own nephew, he’s getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall and I didn’t know he was having any vision problems at all and his parents didn’t either, but we just brought him in for his annual exam and we realized that he had a really significant astigmatism in both eyes and decreased vision,” said Dr. Mai.
It’s an issue she says is easily corrected with glasses, but undetected, it could have led to frustration for the child and teachers at school, and mom and dad at home.
Dr. Mai explains many vision problems don’t have any indicators, but if you see your child squinting, rubbing or covering their eyes frequently or tilting their head one way or another, they may need to have their eyes checked.
To help parents tackle hearing and vision problems, the Ingham County Health Department is holding a Back to School Health Fair Aug. 17 through Aug. 21.
Immunizations will also be available by appointment.
Ingham County Health Department’s Back to School Health Fair- http://hd.ingham.org/home/tabid/122/ctl/viewdetail/mid/5106/itemid/1122/d/20150817/Back-to-School-Health-Fair.aspx