Avera Medical Minute: Eye exams benefit kids going back to school

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Getting kids off to a good start for the school year often includes getting school supplies and some new clothes. There is one thing that could be overlooked, your children's eye exam.

Avera Pedicatric Eye Exam

Jack Weber and his sister Brylee are coming in for an eye exam. Jack says his eyesight is great. "Carrots help you get good eyesight," says Jack. If he were outside, Jack says he could see for fifty miles.

Older sister Brylee Weber remembers what it was like last year.
"I looked at a bunch of charts a lot. He put lights, He used lights and looked at my eyes," said Brylee. Being a Cheerleader, she says having good vision is crucial."Very important," said Brylee. "You don't want to kick anyone or have anyone coming on to you."

If an eye doctor can make an eye exam fun, Avera Orthoptist Joey Martin can. He specializes in kid's vision and pediatric vision disorders and says several signs could be indicators that vision correction is needed.

"Often times they'll squint or turn their head to clear their vision. When you put those things together you can get some neck pain or strain or a headache," said Martin. "So if your kids are coming home consistently at the end of school with a headache or generally fatigued at the end of the school day but they're bouncing off the walls on the weekends, that clues us in that maybe there's a visual issue going on."

During your kid's eye exam, determining vision is just a part of what will happen. "We dive into the way the eyes move or communicate, so we're looking at are we able to focus from a distant object to a near target and maintain that focus for long periods of time for reading as well as relax and look back at a distance," said Martin.

If your kids would like to try contacts, it's really up their responsibility level. if they'll be able to insert the contacts into their eyes, and then take care of them in a sterile fashion to store them overnight.

Dad Shane Weber says the kids' experience has been fun. "They have more interactive tools and games that help get what the doctors need but also keeps those guys focused and engaged," said Weber.

The exam also includes a health assessment of the eyes including any indicators of dry eyes or allergies.

Another consideration for kids back in school is pink eye, which can easily spread among classmates. Martin says frequent hand washing is the first defense to keep pinkeye from spreading.