Kids with undiagnosed vision problems can be mistaken for having learning disabilities. Make sure your back-to-school list includes an annual eye exam.

Now’s the time when parents start making lists of what has to be done before their children go back to school. Along with notebooks, binders, pencils, and pens, I hope you won't forget one of the most important things that will help your child perform at his or her best in class: an annual eye exam.

In the United States, some 10 million children suffer from undetected vision problems that may cause them to struggle in school. In addition, 60 percent of children labeled as “problem” learners actually have undiagnosed vision problems. It's very common for a vision problem to be mistaken for a learning disability. Undetected vision conditions can lead to frustrated students, poor grades, and behavioral issues.

Most parents are unaware that American Academy of Ophthamology recommendations call for infants at high risk for eye disease to have a comprehensive examination by an ophthalmologist as soon as medically feasible. All children should have an assessment for eye problems in the newborn period and then at all subsequent routine health supervision visits. School-age children should be evaluated regularly for visual acuity and ocular alignment (approximately every 1 to 2 years).

Since children’s eyes develop so rapidly, and they continue to develop until about the age of seven, early detection is essential to correcting potentially permanent vision issues. I'd also like to point out that if a child waits too long to have an eye exam, a correctable visual problem may become permanent.

Furthermore, many in-school screenings are limited in scope, while comprehensive eye exams in an ophthalmologist's office test for visual acuity, color vision, eye alignment, eye health, and chronic diseases.

Please call our office to schedule your child's back-to-school eye exam and help ensure that vision impairment will not adversely affect his or her schoolwork.

Dr. Ameet Goyal, M.D. General Ophthalmologist and Oculoplastic Surgeon