Back to school eye health

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Did you know good vision is critical to learning? Up to 80% of what children learn in their early school years is visual*.

Pediatric eye care providers at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics are encouraging school-age children to have their eyes checked as part of routine medical care.

“Heading into the school year, it is a good time to consider the vision and eye health of children. Early detection of potential eye problems can prevent visual loss and allow kids to see and be their best,” shares Scott Larson, MD, clinical professor of ophthalmology and director of the pediatric ophthalmology service.

State requirements vary, but in Iowa, a vision screening is required for Kindergarten and 3rd-grade students. This requirement may be met through a comprehensive eye examination or a vision screening in a variety of settings that include a pediatrician or family practice physician’s office, a free clinic, a childcare center or a local public health department.

In addition to screenings, the National Eye Institute offers several tips to help maintain healthy vision:

  1. Eat right to protect your sight. Children’s eyes are still developing, a well-balanced diet can help keep eyes healthy. Include foods such as spinach, kale, salmon, tuna, citrus fruits, nuts, and eggs.

  2. Watch for warning signs. A child may not recognize a vision problem so look for signs of vision impairment such as squinting, rubbing eyes excessively, tilting their head while reading or watching TV, sitting close to the TV or holding reading materials close.

  3. Encourage getting enough rest. Restful sleep allows our bodies and our eyes to perform their best.

  4. Wear your glasses. Glasses help our eyes to see better and a child’s brain develop the best vision.

  5. Gear up. Whether you are playing your favorite sport, mowing the lawn or doing a science experiment, wearing the right protection can keep your eyes safe and prevent injuries.

  6. Take breaks. Staring at a computer screen or phone for long periods can make our eyes tired and cause headaches. Remember the 20/20/20 rule which is, every 20 minutes look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

  7. Keep germs away. Always wash your hand before putting them near your eyes, especially when putting contact lenses in or taking them out.

  8. Wear your shades. The sun’s rays can hurt your eyes. Choose sunglasses that provide UV protection and avoid looking directly at the sun.

  9. Say no to smoking. Smoking is bad for your eyes, just as it is bad for the rest of your body.

  10. Talk about it. Does anyone in the family have vision concerns? Some eye conditions can run in families and early detection can allow for better outcomes.

These tips apply throughout the year and are important reminders to everyone about what can be done to preserve and protect your vision.

To learn more about Pediatric Ophthalmology and schedule an appointment, visit

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019