What does “Back to school” mean to you? For most, it means school supplies, backpacks, new clothes or a chance to cheer on your local high school football team.

However, for an optometrist, it is a time for diagnosis of vision disorders – perhaps a lazy eye, astigmatism, diabetes and many more time-sensitive conditions.  Once discovered and corrected, this may be the key to unlocking the wonder of learning in a child.

So what are some signs of vision disorders? Consider the following example. One blue-eyed girl is not aware that she sees any differently than the brown-eyed boy sitting across the lunchroom. What she doesn’t know is that the boy does not squint when reading the board, sit closely to the television, follow his finger along with words in a book, or get headaches daily. School-age children rarely know or express concern about their vision.

A common disorder often diagnosed in young children is Amblyopia. This is the medical term for a “lazy eye.” More often than not, the eye looks normal but develops with a weakness. The patient and their family rarely notice symptoms of Amblyopia. However, if diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam before age 8, this condition very possibly can be reversed. After about 8 years old, this condition is permanent. Dr. Scott B. Wayment, an optometrist in Twin Falls, says, “Early detection is the key.”

In addition to pencils, erasers, socks and shoes, make sure that annual eye exams are included on your Back-to-school checklist. This will ensure happier and healthier children, confidence in learning, and success in their futures.

By Heather Wayment