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Why Children need an Eye Exam | Long Island Eye Doctor

Did You Have Your Child’s Eyes Examined?
Joel Kestenbaum, OD


It’s that time of the year again.  The kids are going back to school.  Mom and dad are running out to get the children new clothes, a haircut and a new pencil case.  The cupboard is being filled with the peanut butter, tuna fish and other dietary essentials that are necessary for the brainpower for learning.

But what about vision? Do parents know that 80 percent of learning comes through the eyes? I didn’t make up this statistic.  I stole it from numerous studies that I’ve read about the relationship between vision and a child’s education.  And by the way, how would parents know about this statistic?

The sad thing about this statistic is that I live it every day I am in the office. It seems that I am always examining older teenagers and adults that either have never had an eye examination or didn’t have an eye exam until they were at least in high school. Many of these hard working adults have previously undetected vision problems, including lazy eye, farsightedness and glaucoma.  Some of their vision problems undoubtedly contributed to lack of a quality education and lower paying jobs.

As for the teenagers, how many years of schooling did they have prior to getting an eye exam?  Was it nine years, ten years or more?  How hard it must have been for many of these kids to see what their teachers were writing on the board.  Did they squint to see the homework assignment or did they copy it from their less visually impaired friends?  Are these kids in special classes because they are having trouble learning?  Did any one of their teachers think to ask the parents to have their child’s eyes examined?

If I sound upset, I am.  I place blame for this lack of parental education about their child’s eyesight on educators and medical professionals.  I suppose I have to include myself in this blame game but I know very well that I am one of those medical professionals that actually attempt to discuss the need for eye exams at an early age with my patients .  I go so far as to mention it to every engaged person, newlywed, pregnant woman and grandparent.

When I see a teenager for the first time I am always getting the history from the parents.  I usually ask why they waited to have their child’s eyes examined until this time.  The parent’s usual answer is that their child never complained that they couldn’t see.  My obnoxious thought is “did the child complain about a toothache before you took them to the dentist”?  Sometimes I actually express these thoughts to the parents if I think I have a good rapport with them.  My next question is “Did the pediatrician ever recommend an eye examination”?  Their answer is that the pediatrician did an eye exam every year.  Do pediatricians test for depth perception which can affect motor skills or color vision that can affect certain life skills or do a screening for glaucoma, or take a look through a dilated pupil to discover a previously undetected melanoma?  I don’t think so.

Children’s Eye Examination vs Screenings

My point is that an eye exam is only an eye exam when an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) does the examination.  The rest is just a screening.  Screenings are valuable but do not take the place of a comprehensive eye examination by an eye doctor.   Early detection leads to early prevention.  Early detection leads to an easier time learning in school.  It does not mean that every child will be a genius if their eyes are examined.   It does mean that at least a child has a better chance of seeing what they need to see in order to have an easier time learning.

It has been a long time since my kids have been in grade school.  I am so glad my wife and I gave them all the tools they needed to get a quality education.   Remember to have your child’s eyes examined so that they too can have the tools they need for a quality education.  We had vision.  Do you?

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

Optix Family Eyecare


  1. Knowing what is happening with our children early! is absolutely the best way to prevent any impediment to their future, specially when communications skills are not optimally developed yet.
    As a member of Lions Club, we have a program for Pre-School children, where we take a refraction with a portable autorefractometer camara allowing us to detect any potential eye problem. I think this is one of so many ways to remind parents about children health care.
    Great post, thanks for sharing.
    Best Regards
    .-= LASIK Surgey´s last blog ..Facing my LASIK consent! =-.

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