The Gift of Sight
“Cool thing about eyes is they help us with life,” says Dr. Mike Grindstaff of Optique Vision Center. “We want to give kids every advantage and their eye care is vital. Eighty percent of learning is visually stimulated.”
Children’s eye exams are different than adults. Dr. Grindstaff and his team look for milestones in eye development such as alignment, distance, color, depth perception, and many other issues that arise.
Not everyone’s eyes develop equally. “The brain is moldable and we can correct the eyes with good training. We test for alignment, movement, and muscular depth. The sooner we catch a problem and intervene, the sooner we can correct it.”
Optometric Physician at Premier Eyecare, Dr. Julie Moore, also screens for congenital defects in children. Moore says tumor of the eye is more common in kids under five years old. “Many kids are misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD and may have eye difficulties, 25% of school-aged children have vision deficiencies.”
Some signals that a child might need an eye exam are eye crossing, crowding up to their work or screen, squinting, or rubbing the eyes. Other indicators may be tilting, short attention span, lack of coordination, watery eyes, headaches, red eyes, clumsiness, poor handwriting, or possibly introversion. “It’s very important to have a check up early. Usually we take our vision for granted,” says Moore.
An eye exam is recommended once a year, starting before the child’s first birthday. The American Optometric Association recommends the first exam at six months and there are objective tests for nonverbal children who cannot respond to letters or pictures.
Oklahoma requires school screening for children in kindergarten, first and third grades. This mandatory screening has been effective, but it’s just a screening.
An eye exam goes beyond the screening. The two parts to an eye exam are vision and health. “Through eye exams, I’ve found health problems such as thyroid, MS, diabetes and brain tumors,” says Dr. Moore. “We’re pushing for a comprehensive eye exam before entering school. Screenings are good but a comprehensive eye exam is more.”
According to Dr. Grindstaff, computer eye strain definitely affects children. “We see more eye fatigue syndrome, which is stressful on the eyes. Some kids may need reading glasses simply to relax their eyes.”
Eye care and eye wear are not the same. “Eye care is an investment in your future vision for the next 10, 20, or 30 years,” said Dr. Grindstaff. “Our priority is to make sure your eyes are healthy. We check behind the vision, checking the health of the eyes. If eyes aren’t healthy, it affects your overall health.”
Health problems can be diagnosed early and underlying problems discovered, like in children with short attention spans or those who cause problems. “It’s a great starting point to have their eyes checked out because that could be part of the problem. Without good eyesight, children’s ability to learn and retain is inhibited.”
Allergies and dry eyes can affect kids, sometimes safety glasses or contacts for sporting activities are needed. “UV protection is important for children because 80% of UV damage happens before they are 18 years old,” Dr. Grindstaff states. “Wearing sunglasses is like sun screen for your eyes.”
To give your kids the best chance to achieve, make sure they have good vision. Eye exams are important for overall health and eyes should be checked on a regular basis, just like dental checkups. Many people don’t realize Sooner Care Medicaid insurance pays for an eye exam and some private insurance companies offer an eye care option. Infantsee.org providers offer a free eye exam for children from birth through one year old.
Children may not know their poor vision isn’t normal. They probably won’t say “I can’t see,” but they may have other complaints. Don’t wait until your child has a problem before you take them for an eye exam.
To meet with Dr. Grindstaff, call Optique Vision at 715-EYES (3937) or visit their webpage at www.optiquevisioncenter.com. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Moore at Premier Eyecare, call 513-8150.