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Importance of eye exams

August 15, 2017 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
The pediatric optometrist at the Optometry Clinic at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC), a partnership with the Kentucky College of Optometry, urges parents to have their children’s eyes examined before going back to school.
 
“Children’s eyes should be examined every year,” said Josephine Owoeye, O.D., MPH, associate professor of optometry at the Kentucky College of Optometry. “Their eyesight may change as they grow.”
 
Owoeye specializes in vision care for children which includes infants, toddlers and children under the age of 18.
 
“I have a pocket full of toys to use as needed!” said Owoeye.
 
Owoeye has researched the effects of poor vision on children. Poor vision Importance of eye exams Dr. Josephine Owoeye Associate Professor of Optometry at KYCO leads to poor reading proficiency that is evident in the second and third grades when children are learning to read.
 
By the fifth and sixth grades, children are reading to learn but their vision was already affected hindering their learning. Some parents may think their children have developmental delays or difficulties when in reality, it is poor vision.
 
Poor vision also affects performance in athletics.
 
A child who has difficulty hitting the rim in basketball or swings late at a pitched baseball may have a vision problem. The key to preventing the consequences of poor vision is early detection.
 
“The first eye exam for a child should be as early as six months of age,” said Dr. Owoeye. “Then again between the ages of two and three, and then every year unless a parent notices something is wrong.”
 
The American Optometric Association lists the following as signs of a vision problem:
• Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
• Short attention span
• Avoiding reading and other close activities
• Frequent headaches
• Covering one eye
• Tilting the head to one side
• Holding reading materials close to the face
• An eye turning in or out
• Seeing double
• Losing place when reading
• Difficulty remembering what he/she read
 
During the eye exam, Owoeye tests for visual acuity and signs of eye disease.
 
In the visual acuity test, the child will look at a reading or symbol chart to evaluate how clearly each eye is seeing. The results of this test are written as a fraction, such as 20/20. Normal distance visual acuity is 20/20.
 
The child’s eyes will also be dilated to allow Owoeye to look to the back of the eyes. Several eye diseases may be detected in the earliest stages in this way.
 
“After the exam and having their eyes dilated, your child will have blurry vision and may rub their eyes,” said Owoeye. “This is normal and will only last about two hours. They may also want to go home and sleep.”
 
In addition to stressing the need for early detection of eye problems in children, Owoeye also encourages children and adults to protect their eyes.
 
“The best ways to protect your vision is to wear sunglasses and to protect your eyes from injuries when participating in sports or home improvement projects,” said Dr. Owoeye. “Also, wear a hat to keep your eyes protected from the sun.”
 
The Optometry Clinic is located in the PMC Clinic – 9th floor. Owoeye sees pediatric patients on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Adult eye exams are available on Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
For more information about pediatric eye exams or to make an appointment, call 606-218-2209.
 
Source: American Optometric Association
 
*This article originally appeared in the Medical Leader on July 28, 2017.
 

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