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Back-To-School: Why [Eye_Exams] Are More Important Than Ever

Since the onset of COVID-19, many children have been learning remotely through distance learning programs. While parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically, eye doctors are concerned that undiagnosed vision problems may impact the child’s school performance.

Undetected vision problems may hinder a child’s ability to learn. That’s why eye doctors strongly recommend that children undergo a thorough eye exam before the new school year begins.

While it’s tempting to rely on vision screenings provided by schools, these superficial visual acuity tests can identify only a limited number of eyesight problems. Only a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and address a wide range of problems related to vision and eye health.

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Up to 80% of children’s learning is visual, so even the slightest vision problem can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Taking a child in for an eye exam once a year will allow your eye doctor to detect and correct refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, and check their visual skills, such as convergence insufficiency, binocular vision, focusing and more.

Comprehensive eye exams are the best way to detect mild and serious eye health conditions. Routine eye exams are especially important for children with a family history of eye health problems.

How Is Vision Affected By Online Learning?

The amount of time children spend looking at digital screens was already a concern in the pre-pandemic era—but the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. According to the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, children spent twice as much time on screens during COVID-related closures than they did prior to the pandemic.

For one thing, spending prolonged periods of time on digital devices forces the eyes to work harder, making children (and adults) more susceptible to digital eye strain, one of the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome. People who spend 2 or more consecutive hours staring at a screen are at higher risk of developing this condition.

Some computer vision syndrome symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

These symptoms can be caused by a combination of the following factors:

  • Glare and reflections from the screen
  • Excessive time looking at a screen
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor posture
  • Screen brightness
  • Undetected vision problems

In addition to digital eye strain, several studies have found that children who spend many hours indoors doing “near work” — writing, reading and looking at computers and other digital devices — have a higher rate of myopia progression.

A study published in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s professional journal, Ophthalmology, found that first-graders who spent at least 11 hours per week playing outside in the sunshine experienced slower myopia progression. Some researchers think that exposure to sunlight and looking at distant objects while playing outdoors might help decrease myopia progression.

While regular eye exams are essential for every member of the family, they’re especially important for those who spend a good portion of their day in front of a screen.

Don’t put off your child’s annual eye exam. Schedule an appointment with Eye Mechanix in Lincoln Park today!

Q&A

1. At what age should a child have an eye exam?

According to the American and Canadian Optometric Associations, it’s recommended for a child to have their first eye exam between 6-12 months of age.

Before a child starts school, they should undergo an eye exam, and every one to two years after that, based on their eye doctor‘s recommendation.

2. Does my child need an eye exam if they passed the school vision screening?

Yes! School vision screenings are superficial eye evaluations designed to diagnose a limited number of vision problems like myopia. They do not check for visual skills and other problems that may hinder your child’s academic success.

Your eye doctor will evaluate your child’s vision and eye health, along with visual abilities, including depth perception and eye tracking, to let you know whether your child’s eyes are “school-ready.”

 

Does Your Child Really Have Vision Issues?

Pediatric Eye Exam in Lincoln Park

Pediatric Eye Exam in Lincoln Park

Most kids don’t suspect that something is wrong with their eyesight and are thus unlikely to seek help with their vision. If you witness your child tilting his or her head too often, frequently squinting, or holding books or other objects unusually close or far away from his or her eyes, it may be time for an eye exam.

Book an appointment with Dr. Randall Ricketts at Eye Mechanix today. We will provide a comprehensive eye exam that will detect whether your child has any vision aberrations.

It’s up to parents to recognize the signs of compromised eyesight and to take the necessary precautions against it. Read on to learn the basics of keeping your children’s vision sharp and healthy.

Why Are Vision Screenings Not Enough?

School or pediatric vision screenings often offer superficial eye exams that cannot detect underlying vision issues that get in the way of your child’s success in school and life. In fact, it is estimated that up to 10 million kids suffer from vision issues, despite having passed a school vision screening. Therefore, it is critical to have your child’s eyes examined by an eye doctor in order to assess their overall eye health. The earlier they do it, the better.

Does Your Child Really Hate to Read?

If your child dislikes or avoids reading, it might indicate a vision problem.

Does your child…

  • Use a finger or pencil to guide the eyes while reading?
  • Incessantly rub his or her eyes?
  • Cover one eye while reading?
  • Frequently tilt his or her head?

Reading with undiagnosed vision problems can result in headaches, fatigue and eye strain, which could explain why your child shies away from engaging in this activity.

Should your child need glasses for vision correction, Eye Mechanix has a wide variety of age-appropriate options, made of comfortable, durable, and kid-friendly materials.

Should Eye Exams be on the Back-to-School To-Do List?

By the age of 6, every child should have undergone three eye exams. Make sure to prioritize eye exams by adding it to the back-to-school to-do list. No matter how wonderful the pencils and markers are, if the vision isn’t there, your child will struggle through school, sports, and in life.

Is it Clumsiness or a Vision Problem?

If your child frequently bumps into desks, knocks things over, and trips, it may not be just clumsiness. Contact Eye Mechanix for an eye exam today.

Spending Too Much Time on Computer/Digital Screens?

Too Much Screen Time is Linked To Myopia

The use of digital devices is on the rise, and so is myopia (nearsightedness).

Research has shown that prolonged use of computers and digital devices among children can result in myopia. Focusing on images or words on the screen for extended periods of time can result in eye strain, and over time, can even change the shape of a child’s eye. As a parent, we recommend you limit your child’s computer or phone screen time and incorporate the 20/20/20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds).

Blue Light Blocking Glasses or Lenses for Digital Screens

Another problem with using digital devices has to do with the blue light these devices emit. Smartphones expose us to the most blue light, since we hold them very close to our eyes. Long hours of blue light exposure can harm the eyes and disrupt sleep quality.

However, the harm caused by blue light can be reduced by wearing special Blue Light lenses.

At Eye Mechanix, we offer blue light filters for lenses, which block blue light from reaching one’s eyes and protect your vision when using digital devices. Ask us about adding blue-light filters to your or your child’s glasses, or about getting a full pair of blue light eyeglasses.

Why Opt for Polycarbonate Lenses?

When it comes to kids, the lenses you pick a matter. Eye Mechanix recommends opting for polycarbonate lenses when buying glasses. They are more lightweight, impact-resistant and scratch-resistant than traditional plastic lenses. Furthermore, the UV protection can protect your child’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

If you want your kids to ace their classes this year, remember to prioritize a visit to the eye doctor as part of your back-to-school checklist.

Prepare for Back to School with Blue Light Glasses | Eye Mechanix



Comprehensive Pediatric Eye Exams

At Eye Mechanix, we offer comprehensive pediatric eye exams, as well as a wide array of glasses and lenses for our young patients. Eye Mechanix serves patients from in and around Lincoln Park in the state of Illinois.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My child saw 20/20 at their school physical. That’s perfect vision for back to school, right?

  • A: Maybe! 20/20 only tells us what size letter can be seen 20 feet away. People with significant farsightedness or eye muscle imbalances may see 20/20, but experience enough visual strain to make reading difficult. Vision controls eighty percent of learning so include a thorough eye exam in your child’s Back-to-School list.

Q: My child passed the screening test at school, isn’t that enough?

  • A: Distance and reading are two different things. Someone with perfect distance vision can still have focusing problems up close. Doctors need to check for both, many children have undiagnosed accommodative (focusing) problems because no one ever looked for it before. We always check the distance and near vision on all ages because it is so important. Other areas that need to be checked is eye muscle alignment, color vision, depth perception, and overall health of the eyes.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses. Visit Eye Mechanix for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.


Childhood Myopia Is in Crisis Mode on a Global Scale

When it comes to the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), the statistics are staggering. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic. Below are a few useful tips to help you prevent your child from being part of that statistic.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it, while looking at something far away. So, people with nearsightedness perceive distant objects as blurred while close-up objects can remain clear.

Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not simply an inconvenience. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life—conditions which may lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness.

How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic

Below are some telltale signs to watch for:

  • Blurred distance vision – Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can’t see the board
  • Headaches – When myopia isn’t corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Head tilting or squinting – If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia.
  • Looking at objects too closely – If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.

What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression

  • Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework.
  • When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
  • Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Randall Ricketts

Q: How is myopia diagnosed?

  • A: Your child’s eye doctor will perform a thorough pediatric eye exam to diagnose myopia, which often includes a visual acuity test, where the eye doctor will use an eye chart made up of letters of varied sizes. If the test results indicate myopia, then the optometrist may shine a light into their eyes and evaluate the reflection off the retina to determine the degree of refractive error for their prescription.

Q: Can myopia lead to blindness?

  • A: High myopia may increase your child’s risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why routine eye exams are critical.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Chicago, Illinois. Visit Eye Mechanix for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Medical Optometry: What We Have To Offer

Medical optometry is not just about treating a refractive problem like myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). It’s about diagnosing and managing the wide range of conditions that can affect any part of your eye — and even your eyelids.

Medical eye care exams assess eye pressure as part of a comprehensive examination of your eyes and eye health. Visiting your eye doctor regularly can help detect any visual problems you may be having.

Early Detection is Important

At Eye Mechanix, we understand that many people are unaware that they have a serious eye condition. That’s because some conditions present with no noticeable symptoms early on, until the patient has already experienced irreversible vision loss.

Our eye examinations aim to detect any eye conditions at the earliest possible stage, allowing for the fastest and most successful treatments that enable you to maintain your clear vision.

This is why our practice prioritizes comprehensive medical eye care, with the newest technology. Our comprehensive medical eye exam assesses a patient’s eye-related health for eye diseases and conditions as well as other potential medical problems, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that can sometimes be detected during a thorough examination of the eye.

As optometric technology changes, it is even more important to visit an eye doctor who has all the right optometry qualifications and follows the latest developments in eye care. An earlier and more precise diagnosis means earlier treatment and better outcomes. We can diagnose and manage cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and more.

Why Eye Mechanix?

  • Top-of-the-line medical eye care – At Eye Mechanix, we focus on providing medical eye care in order to evaluate and treat the health and wellbeing of your eyes.
  • Cutting-edge technology – All locations utilize top-of-the-line technology to diagnose and manage medical eye health problems.
  • Experienced team – Our team of medically-focused eye doctors are highly trained experts.
  • Emergency eye care – Put your mind at ease knowing we offer emergency eye care services for problems that require immediate and urgent attention.

Schedule an appointment with Eye Mechanix in and La Grange to ensure that your eyes remain healthy and your vision is clear and comfortable.

At Eye Mechanix, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 773-857-1260 or book an appointment online to see one of our Lincoln Park eye doctors.

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Are Contact Lenses Safe For Young Children?

Here’s a question we often get at our practice: ‘Is my child too young for contact lenses?’ This is an important question, and the answer may surprise you.

For children with myopia (nearsightedness), contact lenses can be a convenient method of vision correction. It allows kids to go about their day without having to worry about breaking or misplacing their glasses, and enables them to freely participate in sports and other physical activities.

Some children and young teens may ask their parents for contact lenses because they feel self-conscious wearing glasses. Contact lenses may even provide children with the confidence boost they need to come out of their shell. Moreover, these days, it is very popular for children to wear single-use one-day disposable soft contacts, since there is no cleaning or maintenance involved.

Some parents may deny their child’s request for contacts due to concerns about eye health and safety. There’s no reason to worry: contact lenses are just as safe for children as they are for anyone else.

At Eye Mechanix, we provide children, teens, and patients of all ages with a wide variety of contact lenses. If you’re concerned about the safety of contacts for your child, we’ll be happy to explain and explore ways to ensure maximum safety, optimal eye health and comfort. To learn more or to schedule a pediatric eye exam for contact lenses, contact us today.

What Are the Risks of Having My Child Wear Contact Lenses?

A study published in the January 2021 issue of The Journal of Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics found that kids aren’t at a higher risk of experiencing contact lens complications.

The study followed nearly 1000 children aged 8-16 over the course of 1.5-3 years to determine how contact lenses affected their eye health.

The results indicate that age doesn’t have an effect on contact lens safety. In fact, the researchers found that the risk of developing infections or other adverse reactions was less than 1% per year of wear — which is comparable to contact lens wearers of other ages.

But before you decide that contact lenses are right for your child, you may want to consider whether your child is ready to wear them. During his or her eye doctor’s appointment, the optometrist may ask about your child’s level of maturity, responsibility, and personal hygiene. Since many children are highly motivated to wear contacts, they tend to display real maturity in caring for their lenses. That said, in the initial stages, parents may need to play an active role, as their child gets used to inserting and removing the new contact lenses.

It’s important to note that just as with any other medical device, contact lenses are not risk-free. Anyone who wears contact lenses has a chance of developing eye infections or other complications with contact lenses. However, when worn and cared for according to your eye doctor’s instructions, contact lenses are low-risk and perfectly safe for children and teenagers.

So, go ahead and bring your child in for a contact lens consultation! We’ll help determine if your child is ready for contacts and answer any questions you or your child may have. To schedule your child’s contact lens fitting or eye exam, contact Eye Mechanix in Lincoln Park today.