Dr. Mark J. Page, Optometrist, Discusses The Importance Of Vision Screenings For Children

In a recent interview, Dr. Mark J. Page has revealed the importance of having a child pass a vision screening before going back to school. It seems that most parents believe a regular eye examination is enough to ensure their children can see properly, but Dr. Page, a noted Optometrist, warns that this is actually not sufficient at all. He says, “Parents should know that studies have found that up to 11 percent of children who pass a vision screening actually have a vision problem that needs treatment. Also, children who fail vision screenings often don’t get the vision care they need.”

To support his views, Dr. Page, who is the founder of Arizona’s Vision Eye Care Center, cited a number of prominent studies that have been completed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. These studies conclusively demonstrated that as many as 67% of children do not get the necessary eye care they require if they fail an eye examination. Additionally, at least half of all parents didn’t even realize that their children had not passed their eye test. These are worrying trends as they highlight the poor quality of eye care that exists today. When considering that many vision problems are not picked up by an eye examination, and those that do get picked up are not treated properly, it becomes clear that something needs to be done.

According to Dr. Page, it is very important that parents make the effort to ensure their child is routinely seen by an eye doctor that specializes in dealing with children’s vision. “Eye exams performed by an eye doctor are the only way to diagnose eye and vision diseases and disorders in children. Undiagnosed vision problems can impair learning and cause vision loss and other issues that significantly impact a child’s quality of life,” he explains.

He adds, it is important to see a doctor that has a pediatric specialization, because the eyes of children are so different from those of adults. They have focusing mechanisms that allow them to see both near and far in seemingly perfect vision. However, this mechanisms stops working with age, and can lead to vision problems that could have been picked up sooner by someone who knows what they are looking for.

Additionally, although rare, some children have glaucoma, which is almost impossible to pick up by a standard eye test. If it is missed, however, it can lead to permanent vision loss. Furthermore, it is important to understand that if children spend an excessive amount of time straining their eyes in order to see things in school, they will struggle to concentrate and may start to show behavioral problems. ADHD is significantly over-diagnosed and, according to many specialists, actually points to other issues such as eye problems.

Dr. Page also highlighted that it is important for parents to be aware of the particular risks to children’s vision that exist today. Most of the electronic devices we use today, and particularly the ones that children use frequently (tablets, smart TVs, smartphones and so on), use blue light. Over-exposure to this type of light can be damaging to the eye. This is particularly true if it is used in darkened rooms, which is common as many children use these devices in their bedrooms at night.

A study completed by the Harvard Health Letter showed that people who worked at night had a noticeable reduction in their melatonin, and this can have significant health consequences, not solely in terms of vision. A particular problem, according to Dr. Page, is that too many eye doctors are not aware of this issue. Additionally, even if they are aware of it, they do not have the means to test it.

Dr. Page says, “Most eye doctors do not have any way to determine how much energy or radiation is getting through the glasses. Parents should definitely call around and ask if the doctor prescribes for high energy visible light or HEV protection. Some doctors may cost more, but it is your child and their eyesight.”

Although there are guidelines on how to protect children from this type of light, these are no regulations or laws. This is why it is still possible to purchase sunglasses that do not actually do what they say on their labels when it comes to how much UV they allow to pass. Good eye doctors will always prescribe sunglasses that really protect the eyes from UV rays, and this is believed to have a massive impact on overall vision. Parents must also understand that this type of protection must start from birth, and that sunglasses are not some sort of fashionable item that people choose once they are able to make their own decisions.

Dr. Page is not the only specialist who is encouraging parents to look into proper eye examinations for their children. He is trying very hard to make sure parents make this part of their routine care, as this will also normalize it for the children themselves. The examinations are painless and should not cause any difficulties for the child. Peter S. Schwartz, M.D., a noted pediatric and adult ophthalmologist, agrees with these and is working hard to raise awareness among parents.

Dr. Schwartz explains, “Vision is closely linked to the learning process. Children who have trouble seeing or interpreting what they see will often have trouble with their schoolwork. Many times, children will not complain of vision problems simply because they don’t know what “normal” vision looks like. If your child performs poorly at school or exhibits a reading or learning problem, be sure to schedule an eye examination to rule out an underlying visual cause.”

Dr. Schwartz has clearly explained the difference between a vision screening and an eye examination. Although vision screenings are hugely important and the fact that these are now offered to all children is very much welcome, he also believes parents should make more effort to request eye examinations, even if the vision screening has negative results. Because there is such a clear link between vision and learning outcomes, parents must commit to this.

To learn more visit: http://www.peterschwartzmd.com/importance-of-eye-exams.
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