Texas Children's Hospital urges parents to be proactive about their child's eye health

The new school year is quickly approaching, and most parents arebusy making their to-do list in preparation for their child'sreturn to school. Pediatric ophthalmologists at Texas Children'sHospital are encouraging parents to put vision screening at the topof that list.

Reading, writing and computer work are among the visual skillsstudents are required to perform daily, making healthy vision acrucial part to the learning process and a child's success inschool. For more information, visit: texaschildrens.org.

Dr. Jane Edmond, pediatric neuro ophthalmologist at TexasChildren's and associate professor of ophthalmology at BaylorCollege of Medicine, urges parents to be proactive about theirchild's eye health by making sure children get regular visionscreenings. This screening is a check-up to determine how well achild can see and is performed by their primary care doctor ortheir child's school. Comprehensive, or full eye exams, areperformed by eye care specialists and should be reserved forchildren who do not pass vision screening tests or who are showingsigns of difficulty with their vision or eyes in general - such aseye crossing.

"Good vision is crucial to a child's success in school andactivities, and can have a major impact on their confidence," saysEdmond.

Undetected vision problems at a young age can set a child up forlearning difficulties, poor grades and bad behavior. Estimates showthat up to one in 30 children could have amblyopia, or lazy eye,one out of 20 could have strabismus, or eye misalignment, and oneout of seven has a significant refractive error, which is poorvision that can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Signsof these common vision problems include squinting, getting tooclose to the television or reading material, eyes that are notstraight, head tilting when looking at objects, headaches whenreading, or avoidance of reading.

Parents are the first line of defense for a child's visionhealth because young kids often cannot communicate they are havinga problem seeing. Vision screenings, performed in the primary careprovider's office or school, are safe, inexpensive, effective andsmart. These screenings can catch problems this year that were notpresent the year before and can detect vision problems even whenthere are no symptoms. Screening can take place as part ofwell-child exams, in schools and can be performed by pediatricians,family physicians, nurses and lay screeners.

Parents should also encourage their child to wear protectiveeyewear when playing sports that have a high risk of ocular injury.Sports goggles can significant reduce the likelihood of injuriesthat are potentially sight damaging.

Texas Children's Ophthalmology Division treats children fromaround the world who need surgical treatment for eye disorders andplastic surgery of the eyes. The team of board-certified pediatricphysicians and surgeons is specially trained to work with thespecific needs of children in a family-friendly environment. TexasChildren's ophthalmologists perform more than 1,100 procedures eachyear and see more than 16,000 patients annually. The team is alsoinvolved in clinical research to help improve the treatment ofpediatric eye disorders.

For more information about the team or to make an appointment,call 832-822-3230.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.