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For more information:

Prevent Blindness Ohio
Stacie Lehman
Phone: 800-301-2020 ext. 119
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Making Eye Health a Priority is One Way to Help Children See a Brighter Future

 

 

Columbus, OH (August 8, 2013)– The first day of school is quickly approaching and a key part of academic success starts with healthy eyesight. Prevent Blindness Ohio encourages parents to add “get my child’s eyes checked” to their back-to-school list of things to do.

 

Oftentimes, children do not realize they have vision problems, so they learn to compensate.  Many students are misdiagnosed as having learning or behavioral disabilities when they may simply have a correctable vision problem.  That’s why Prevent Blindness Ohio recommends a continuum of eye care throughout the lifespan beginning at birth and including regular vision screenings and comprehensive eye exams.

 

According to the recent “Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States”study from Prevent Blindness America, vision disorders in children ages 0-17 cost Ohioans  more than $210 million in direct and indirect costs each year. The National Eye Institute reported that the most prevalent and significant vision disorders of preschool children are amblyopia (2-5 percent), strabismus (3-4 percent) and significant refractive error (15-20 percent). Fortunately, eye problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes) can be successfully treated if detected early. 

 

Prevent Blindness Ohio has declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety month to inspire parents to make their child’s vision health a priority. The charitable, non-profit group provides free information on its website at pbohio.org.

 

While a vision screening or a comprehensive eye exam is the most effective way to find vision problems, parents can also be aware of the following signs and see a health care professional to address these concerns:

 

What do your child's eyes look like?

  • Eyes don't line up, one eye appears crossed or looks outward
  • Eyelids are red-rimmed, crusted or swollen
  • Eyes are watery or red (inflamed)

How does your child act?

  • rubs eyes a lot

  • closes or covers one eye

  • tilts head or thrusts head forward

  • has trouble reading or doing other close-up work, or holds objects close to eyes to see

  • blinks more than usual or seems cranky when doing close-up work

  • squints eyes or frowns

 

What does your child say?

  • "My eyes are itchy," "my eyes are burning" or "my eyes feel scratchy," "I can't see very well."
  • After doing close-up work, your child says "I feel dizzy," "I have a headache" or "I feel sick/nauseous."
  • "Everything looks blurry," or "I see double.”

 

“The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time in a child’s life,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio. “By working together with parents, health care professionals and educators, we hope to give all our kids a bright and healthy start!” Prevent Blindness Ohio has information on children’s vision for parents, health care professionals, educators and kids on its website, www.wiseabouteyes.org, including vision games for kids, downloadable curriculum for all grade levels and schedules of community events and vision screening trainings for the general public. For more information on children’s eye health and safety, please call Prevent Blindness Ohio at (800) 301-2020 or visit wiseabouteyes.org.

 

About Prevent Blindness Ohio

Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. Prevent Blindness Ohio is an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the country’s second-oldest national voluntary health organization. For more information or to make a donation call 800-301-2020 or visit us on the web at pbohio.org.

 

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2013 CHILDREN’S EYE HEALTH AND SAFETY FACT SHEET

 

  • According to the “Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States”study from Prevent Blindness America, vision disorders in children ages 0-17 cost Americans more than $5.7 billion in direct and indirect costs each year.  Costs in Ohio are $210 million annually.
  • Also according to the report, the estimated cost of a school-based vision screening is $4.15 per child.
  • Amblyopia is responsible for more loss of vision in people age 45 and younger than all other eye diseases and trauma combined.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one in three children in America have received eye care services before the age of six. 
  • More than 12.1 million school-age children, or one in four, have some form of vision problem. The NEI also reports that the most prevalent and significant vision disorders of preschool children are amblyopia (2-5 percent), strabismus (3-4 percent) and significant refractive error (15-20 percent).
  • About 80 percent of learning in a child’s first 12 years comes through the eyes. (CheckYearly.com/ Vision Council of America)
  • Often a child with a vision-based learning problem has excellent verbal skills, causing parents and educators to think the child must be lazy, have ADD/ADHD, or is learning disabled.  The possible misdiagnosis can be due to similar symptoms, but the causes are not the same. (College of Optometrists in Vision Development)
  • Amblyopia is reduced vision in an eye that cannot be corrected by glasses alone.  It can lead to monocular blindness if left untreated. With early detection and treatment, the chance for restoring vision is excellent.  An encouraging recent study showed children up to the age of 17 can still be effectively treated for amblyopia.
  • Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood.  It affects approximately 2 to 3 out of every 100 children.  (National Eye Institute)
  • Untreated amblyopia costs the U.S. nearly $7.4 billion in earning power each year.  There is a return of $22 for each dollar spent on amblyopia diagnosis and treatment. (Membreno JH, Brown MM, Brown GC, Sharma S, Beauchamp GR., “A Cost Analysis of Therapy for Amblyopia,” Ophthalmology, December 2002)
  • Amblyopia has many causes. Any underlying condition that causes the brain to receive images of unequal quality in the two eyes (one eye focuses better than the other) can cause amblyopia. Most often it results from a misalignment of a child’s eyes, such as crossed eyes (strabismus). There is an increased risk in pre-term infants, low birth weight infants and in children born with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
  • About one in 50 children in America has strabismus.  Half of these children are born with the condition.  An illness or accident may also cause strabismus. 
  • Congenital cataracts are present at birth but may not be identified until later in life.  Cataract surgery is the treatment of choice and should be performed when patients are younger than 17 weeks to ensure minimal or no visual deprivation. Most ophthalmologists opt for surgery much earlier, ideally when patients are younger than 2 months, to prevent irreversible amblyopia.  (Mounir Bashour, MD, PhD, “Cataract, Congenital,” emedicine.com, April 2006)
  • According to the International Glaucoma Association, glaucoma in infants is present in one in 10,000 births.  Symptoms of glaucoma in babies and children may include:

·            Large eyes

·            Sensitivity to light

·            Cloudy eyes

·            Watering eyes

·            Poor vision and jerky eyes (Nystagmus)

·            Squinting

  • Vision screenings and professional eye examinations are recommended as part of a continuum of vision care for children.  Prevent Blindness America recommends children have their vision checked at infancy, 6 months, 3 years, 5 years and follow-ups as needed. 
  • The CDC reports that 40 percent of all sports-related eye injuries are to kids, ages 14 and younger.  And, only 14.6 percent of kids say they consistently wear eye protection while playing sports.  Boys were more likely to wear eye protection than girls.
  • Keep dangerous household products out of reach of children and buy only toys that are age-appropriate.
  • Protect your children’s eyes from the sun. Kids should wear polycarbonate sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays. The glasses should be marked with a label that indicates they provide 99-100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection. Wide-brimmed hats block about 50 percent of UV rays when worn alone.
  • 80 percent of children diagnosed with learning disabilities or poor learning performance have binocular vision problems.  Source: Solan, H.A., The Treatment and Management of Children With Learning Disabilities

 

 

Signs of possible eye problems in children

What do your child’s eyes look like?

·         Eyes don’t line up, one eye appears crossed or looks out

·         Eyelids are red-rimmed, crusted or swollen

·         Eyes are watery or red (inflamed)

 

How does your child act?

·         Rubs eyes a lot

·         Closes or covers one eye

·         Tilts head or thrusts head forward

·         Blinks more than usual

·         Squints eyes or frowns

 

What does your child say?

·         “My eyes are itchy,” “my eyes are burning” or “my eyes feel scratchy. “I can’t see very well.”

·         After doing close-up work, your child says “I feel dizzy,” “I have a headache” or “I feel sick/nauseous.”

·         “Everything looks blurry,” or “I see double.”

 

 

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