Optometrist: Get back-to-school eye exams

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

With school less than a week away, parents and students alike are getting ready to embark on a new school year, but one local eye doctor is issuing a reminder that good vision is imperative.

Dr. Bill Tillman of Tillman Family Eye Care said this week that a good education for children means good schools, good teachers and good vision.

“Your child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play,” he said. “So when his or her vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer.”

Tillman said that several basic vision skills are needed for school.

The first is near vision, which he said is the ability to see clearly at 10-13 inches.

Distance vision or the ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm’s reach and binocular coordination, or the ability to use bother eyes together, are two additional skills.

Also crucial for school days are eye movement skills, which are the ability to aim the eyes accurately, move them smoothly across a page and shift them quickly and accurately from one object to another.

Additionally, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye-hand coordination are also important.

“If any of these or other vision skills are lacking or not functioning properly, your child will have to work harder,” he said. “This can lead to headaches, fatigue and other eyestrain problems. As a parent, be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem.”

Tillman also suggested telling an optometrist if a child experiences the following:

• Loses their place while reading;

• Avoids close work;

• Holds reading material closer than normal;

• Tends to rub his or her eyes;

• Has headaches;

• Turns or tilts head to use one eye only;

• Make frequent reversals when reading or writing;

• Uses finger to maintain place when reading;

• Omits or confuses small words when reading; or

• Consistently performs below potential.

“Because vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist,” Tillman said. “Remember, school vision or pediatrician’s screenings are good, but they are not a substitute for a thorough eye examination.”