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Back To School


There is another important test for children to pass: an eye screening

September is Children s Eye Health and Safety month and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends vision screening for all children three years and older As parents and students gear up for another school year of pop quizzes midterm tests and book reports there is another important test for children to pass: an eye screening. September is Children s Eye Health and Safety month and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends vision screening for all children three years and older as well as screening infants for common eye problems during regular pediatric appointments. One out of every 20 children between 3- and 5-years-old has a condition that could be vision-threatening if left untreated according to Stuart Dankner MD a pediatric ophthalmologist in Baltimore.

The condition is the leading cause of blindness in aging Americans according to background information in the article. There is no cure for AMD and limited treatment options are available to slow its progression so research on preventive measures is essential. Previous studies have suggested a potential link between AMD and lutein and zeaxanthin plant pigments known as carotenoids and found in leafy green vegetables corn egg yolks squash broccoli and peas. These compounds may reduce the risk of AMD by absorbing blue light that could damage the macula by preventing free radicals from damaging eye cells and by strengthening eye cell membranes.

"Vision problems can be corrected and the effects reversed if identified and treated early " said Dr. Dankner. "If visual symptoms or other risk factors are found during vision screening the child should then be referred to an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive examination." For example amblyopia (commonly known as lazy eye) is the leading cause of treatable blindness in children. "The earlier it is detected and treated the better chance of preventing permanent vision loss " Dr. Dankner said. In addition to lazy eye

  1. other conditions an eye care professional will look for are: strabismus (crossed eyes)
  2. ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid)
  3. color deficiency (color blindness)
  4. refractive errors (nearsightedness

farsightedness and astigmatism)

"Aside from vision-threatening conditions eye screenings for kids are vital because vision changes can occur without a child or parent realizing it " Dr. Dankner said. "If your child is having trouble seeing the blackboard or the words in a book learning as well as participating in recreational activities will suffer." Dr. Dankner also cautions parents to look out for other potential risks to the eye health of their children. "Be sure that the toys your child plays with are appropriate for his or her age and maturity levels. Avoid toys with sharp protruding or projectile parts " he said. "Sports also could endanger your child s eyes. There are an estimated 42 000 sports-related eye injuries annually and the majority of them happen to children. So make sure he or she wears appropriate protective eyewear."

The lack of a link between intake of carotenoids and AMD in the overall study group could be due to several factors including the fact that the older women who participated in the study may have been more likely to have consumed higher levels of fruits and vegetables during their lifetimes than other older adults who have already died. Many nutrients may work together to provide protection against AMD and the study may not have measured other dietary deficits that influence risk the authors write.

Dr. Dankner suggests parents always wear protective eye gear when playing sports working in the yard using harsh chemicals or working on the car. "Do not use or allow children to use fireworks " he said. "Set a good example. Have eye exams at recommended intervals. It shows your child that his or her body is worth taking care of and that preventive medicine is the best medicine."



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