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Summer is a Good Time to Think About Eye Health

This is a discussion on Summer is a Good Time to Think About Eye Health within the May 2006 forums; Summer is a perfect time to take the kids for a back-to-school eye exam. Kids ...


 
 
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Old 05-31-2006, 12:14 PM
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Default Summer is a Good Time to Think About Eye Health

Summer is a perfect time to take the kids for a back-to-school eye exam.

Kids usually don't mind having their eyes checked, especially after they find out they won't be getting any shots at the doctor's office.

It's always best to bring kids to exams after they've had their nap, or whenever they're in a good mood. The Albert Lea Eye Clinic sets aside two days in the summer for kids to have their exams. This year, Kids' Day is on August 24 and 25 in Albert Lea and on August 22 and 25 in Wells.

“Most of the stuff we do back here is fun,” said optometrist Della Simmons. “We try to make it fun for the kids when they're in, or at least not too dull.”

Optometrists doing back-to-school eye exams check the health of the eye, visual acuity - how well eyes see - and how well the eyes work as a team. Nearly everyone has a glasses prescription, according to Simmons, but it takes a certain threshold before glasses are required.

Sometimes eyes don't work well together, causing a lazy eye. Sometimes eyes can even fight each other, causing double vision, eye strain or fatigue.

“Anytime you see a kid doing their homework with one eye covered up, that's a good sign there's a problem there,” Simmons said.

Most kids have healthy eyes, but every once in a while there are problems.

In an eye exam, kids start with a technician, who checks what they're seeing without glasses or with their old glasses. The technician also checks for depth perception, using a 3-D image of a fly.

Then the optometrist comes in and checks the glasses prescription, double-checks the eye teaming and then checks for eye health.

Sometimes optometrists do use the eye-drops that enlarge the pupil, so that the inside of the eye is easier to see. Unfortunately the eyedrops do sting a little, and make it impossible to focus. Kids can't see well afterwards and they will be very sensitive to light, if they have the drops.

“In theory, I can look inside your eye, and depending on the reflection of the light bouncing back at me - the light bounces funny, and that usually tells me if there's astigmatism in there,” Simmons said.

Astigmatism, when the surface of the cornea or other parts of the eye is uneven, is fairly common in patients with blurred vision at distance and with near objects, said optometrist Eric Youlden.

One of the surprising things about eye care is that any child, and even babies, can get glasses - or even contacts - fitted to them.

“Since mom and dad don't want to put contacts on them, you base contacts on responsibility,” Simmons said. “That age has gotten younger and younger. It used to be about 12 was as young as they'd go. Nowadays I've got 8-year-olds in contacts.”

Simmons stressed that kids needed to be motivated to wear contacts, and that it couldn't be just the parents' decision. Plenty of pre-teens want contacts when they start paying more attention to their looks. But it should always be based on responsibility.
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