Fit & Well: The importance of early & consistent eye checkups for kids

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TWIN FALLS, Id. ( KMVT/KSVT ) 80 percent of learning takes place through the eyes in the first 12 years of kid's lives. For this week’s Fit & Well Idaho, we spoke with Dr. Robert Grill who is an Optometrist at Vision Source Eye Center here in the Magic Valley.

Dr. Grill said, “Most vision problems, many go undetected, because children adapt very readily to whatever's wrong with their eyes. They don't realize they have a problem, they don't know how to express that to parents, so parents and teachers often miss these things. What we see everyday in the office is that parents come in with a child that's a little bit older and has a fairly significant problem, and they're always surprised. Because they no clues, they had no indicators, and I think parents just assume that if there's a problem, it's going to be visible. That their child's going to have trouble seeing something, and they're going to be squinting, or they're going to be closing an eye, something obvious. That often isn't the case. They adapt so well, the problems get missed. The American Optometric Association recommends that the first exam take place at 6 months, and then the next one, if there are no problems found at 6 months, age 3. The 3rd exam should happen before entering 1st grade. In preschoolers, it's something like 5 to 10% will have a vision problem. In school age children, it's as much as 25% will have a problem with their eyes and with their vision. So it's not a high, high percentage, but it's enough that when those are missed, it's pretty serious and it has a lot to do with how they perform in the classroom and how they do as far as learning to read, and to do all their academic chores and tasks. Many problems if they're not detected at an early age can't be prevented later on. There's certain problems that one eye sees differently than the other, and that the weaker eye of the two or the one that has a stronger need for correction, will actually become weaker and many times if we don't catch that until they're a little bit older, it can't be corrected. So you go through a lifetime of poor vision in one eye, just because it wasn't caught at an early age."

A high percentage of injuries to the eyes occur in childhood sports. If you missed getting your kids into an eye doctor before school started, it's not too late. Grill says it's better late than never.