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Children's Eye Health Live Q&A

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Laura Zabriskie

September 7, 2017
Parents may overlook their children's eye health, especially when they are young. Dr. Mary Louise Collins, Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at GBMC sat down with ABC2's Ashley James to discuss children's eye health and important questions to ask your child's doctor about their vision. Vision screenings and eye exams should be a regular part of your child's health and wellness checks. An easy way to remember this is to schedule vision screenings as part of your child's back-to-school routine. According to Dr. Collins, only about 30% of children get an eye exam before starting school.

Schools conduct periodic vision screenings for children, usually in the 5th and 8th grades, but formal eye exams should start around age three. The difference between a vision screening and a comprehensive eye exam is simple: vision screenings detect reduced vision in one or both eyes, whereas a comprehensive eye exam looks at the medical health of the eye (retina, optic nerve, etc.). The team of ophthalmologists at GBMC has specialized equipment and screening techniques that allow them to evaluate eye health without having to use a vision chart. This is especially helpful for young children who are preverbal or cannot yet read.

While some eye issues don't show symptoms, there are a few telltale signs that your child may have vision problems. If your child is frequently squinting or has trouble reading the board in school, he or she should be taken for a vision screening or eye exam. During the evaluation, your doctor can decide what the best solution is for your child.

As children get older, especially once they reach their teens, the question of contact lenses starts to come up more frequently. Many parents want to know at what age it is appropriate to allow their child to wear contacts, but there is no magic number. Dr. Collins says that although her practice doesn't usually prescribe contacts until middle school, maturity is a much better indicator than age when it comes to whether or not your child should get contacts. Some ten year olds are better prepared and more likely to take care of their contacts than other sixteen year olds.

Throughout the conversation, Dr. Collins discussed the importance of eye protection in sports and how screen time can affect your child's development. She also answered pre-submitted and live questions from viewers.
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