When it comes to back-to-school, the supplies don’t end with backpacks and cool kicks—don’t forget the kids’ eyeglasses, too! Dr. Mina Kim, the optometrist from our Brooklyn Heights store, knows that the eyes are one of the most important classroom tools. And regularly teaches her patients the ABC’s of eye health, including the importance of eye exams for kids.
Whether your little one is in daycare or high school, Dr. Kim emphasizes the importance of following the American Optometric Association’s suggestion that babies as young as six months old get a complete eye exam. Even though you as an adult may only need to plan a visit to your eye doctor every 18 months or so (though yearly is best!), it’s important that kids see the doctor, she says, because as kids grow their vision may change quickly and with an exam, it’s easy to spot common eye problems in children.
There are a few flags that Dr. Kim suggests parents need to watch for to identify common eye problems in children:
- MYSTERIOUS MOVEMENT If you see something unusual like the way their eyes track—or follow you or objects, come in ASAP for an eye exam.
- UNUSUAL ADAPTATIONS If kids are squinting, covering one eye to see, or complaining—set an appointment for an eye exam.
- TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT VIEWING If your child is standing too close to the tv or pulling a tablet or cell phone close to their face—it’s time to get them into the doctor to see if they need kid’s eyeglasses.
Heading into a one-stop shop with an optometrist who can give a first-class kid’s eye exam as well as an optician to interpret that prescription to select the best kid’s eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses can help check a major school-preparation item off of the to-do list in one easy step. Thinking about waiting until your child’s school does a screening…well, not every school checks for common eye problems in children, and a screening isn’t a proper eye exam and may not catch eye health conditions that need treatment.
Dr. Kim suggests that first-time young patients get a little prep for their experience. In fact, she recommends a little light reading for kids and parents, the free downloadable book, Howard and the Amazing Eye, available at iTunes, which gives insight into the process of eye exams for kids and how to spot vision problems.
If reading about what happens at the eye doctor isn’t quite enough to settle your kids, it may be time for you to hop in the chair! Dr. Kim notes she has great results with the first appointments of kids who get to have their eye exams as a Mommy or Daddy and Me experience. Kids are reassured by watching you take each step of the eye exam and then feel better about going through it themselves, she said.
FUN AND FITTING
Once it’s time to take your child’s eyeglass prescription into the shop’s optician to be filled, it’s time for the fun to begin! Sure, that may induce an eye roll, but selecting the correct eye glasses or contact lenses can be fun and result in stylish glass frames that will fit in any classroom, hallway, or sports field. Working with the trained optician to find the right kid’s eyeglasses and contact lenses, Dr. Kim notes, means that your child will not only see better but look good with well-fitting styles. Getting all three of these factors met when correcting children’s vision problems results in an “A” for the shop and the patient, too!
Dr. Kim also noted that parents might get great information about contact lenses to correct kid’s eyesight. She’s seen kids do very well with daily disposable lenses from as young as 8 years old. Most kids can put in and take out contact lenses for themselves—as long as they make sure they wash their hands with soap and water before touching their eyes!
Finally, getting the best kid’s eyeglasses for back-to-school includes performance boosting extras like photochromic lenses that change from light to dark depending on the sun exposure as well as traditional sunglasses—something Dr. Kim suggests for kids’ eye protection from as young an age as possible.