Optical Organizations Offer Resources to Support August as National Children’s Vision and Learning Month

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AURORA, Ohio, St. LOUIS and CHICAGO—Several states and optical organizations throughout the country are recognizing August as Children’s Vision and Learning Month, a designation intended to focus the public’s attention on the connection between children’s eye health and their learning abilities as well as persuade parents to schedule comprehensive eye exams for their children during the back-to-school season.

According to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD),  six states have submitted proclamations in support of the initiative, stating the importance of education in the lives of children and encouraging students to be screened for vision problems in order to maximize their potential in the classroom.

In a recent release, COVD president Ida Chung, OD, FCOVD, said, “Students who have eye coordination and eye movement problems struggle to read and have trouble remembering what they read which will make this task nearly impossible. That’s why we observe August as International Children’s Vision and Learning Month , to help educate the public on this vital issue.” Chung also emphasized in a statement last May that “the majority of vision screenings and even eye exams are not designed to test for vision problems that interfere with academic success. It takes specialized testing to identify the majority of vision problems that interfere with reading and learning.”

COVD is also supporting the campaign with a series of public service announcements that can be viewed in VisionMonday.com's Multimedia section.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) also recommends making comprehensive eye exams part of children’s back-to-school checklist, stating that doing so can save them from a lifetime of visual discomfort. In their Ready-for-School campaign, the Association emphasizes digital device use among school-aged children and is offering materials such as a template news release, key messages, social media posts, an email pitch and an infographic containing recommendations for avoiding digital eye strain. According to the AOA, 83 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 say they use an electronic device for three or more hours each day, but only 40 percent of parents believe their children use an electronic device for that same amount of time.

“Each year when school starts we see an increase in kids complaining of symptoms synonymous with eye strain,” said Lori Roberts, OD, chair of the AOA’s New Technology Committee. “Parents should know that vision screenings miss too many children who should be referred to an optometrist for an eye examination to correct vision.”

Prevent Blindness is also supporting the August initiative with their own Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, offering family-friendly resources to parents encouraging they take steps to keep their children’s eyesight healthy. Resources cover topics such as amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), UV protection, sports safety and the Affordable Care Act, and can be found at preventblindness.org as well as through Prevent Blindness’ National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH) website.

Programs offered by Prevent Blindness also include an NCCVEH initiative with the Family Voices National Center for Family Professional Partnership (NCFPP); EyeSpy, a free online program designed specifically for children; the Star Pupils Eye Health and Safety Curriculum, specifically designed for educators; and The Eye Patch Club, a program geared towards children with amblyopia and their families.