520 North Third Ave Sandpoint, ID 83864

 (208) 263-1441

Be Sure to Put Eye Exam on Back-to-School Checklist

By Kathy Hubbard

Amanda was a bright, healthy child. She loved going to school and excelled at all subjects. When she started the third grade, however, things changed radically. It was as if all of a sudden her brain fell out of her head. She couldn’t concentrate on the new subjects, she talked in class keeping others from doing their work, and her grades slipped big time.

“I think you should send Amanda for an eye exam,” the teacher told her parents about three weeks into the semester. “Let’s rule out a physical reason for her change in behavior.”

After her parents agreed with the teacher and took Amanda in to see an optometrist, they found out that she indeed had some eye issues that were easily remedied by a pair of glasses. But, the nagging question was why didn’t they know there was something wrong earlier?

For the first time in her schooling, the teacher sat Amanda in the back of the classroom. As a result, she couldn’t see the teacher, the board or anything else that was in the front of the room.

You don’t want your child to be an Amanda, so right now, before school starts, get the kiddo in for an eye screening. Your pediatrician most likely performed a brief examination when your child was around six months old and again close to his or her third birthday.

“As children grow and change from year-to-year, so do their eyes and vision. School demands intense visual involvement, including reading, writing, computer and chalkboard/smartboard work,” the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s website says. “Even physical education and sports require strong vision. If their eyes aren’t up to the task, a child may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and have problems in school.”

AAO says that there are four signs that can indicate that your child’s vision is a problem. The first is if your child has a short attention span, loses interest in games, projects or activities that require using their eyes for an extended period of time it may be indicative of a vision deficiency.

The second indicator is when they lose their place when reading. “As your child reads (aloud or silently), they may have difficulty seeing to keep track of where they are on the page,” AAO says. The third sign is that your child is avoiding reading and other close activities. This may indicate that your child is having difficulty focusing up close.

And, the third sign is turning their head to the side. “A child may turn their head to the side when looking at something in front of them. This may be a sign of a refractive error. Turning their head helps the child see better.”

An eye clinic in Maryland adds three more indicators: Squinting, excessive eye rubbing and sitting too close to the TV and other devices.

So what will the doctor be screening for? The first two are obvious, farsightedness (hyperopia) which means d’uh that your child sees far away but not up close and nearsightedness (myopia) which is the exact opposite and the most common.

Doc will also look for astigmatism, which is when the eye isn’t shaped properly; amblyopia (lazy eye) which is when one eye is weaker than the other because the brain area for one eye didn’t develop properly and misaligned eyes (strabismus).

If your child has a vision complaint or if you’ve observed abnormal visual behavior, or is at risk for developing eye problems due to medical conditions (e.g. Down syndrome, prematurity, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, neurofibromatosis) or a family history of eye problems such as amblyopia, strabismus, retinoblastoma, congenital cataracts or congenital glaucoma should have a comprehensive eye exam.

“A comprehensive eye exam can facilitate diagnosis of visual problems. It involves the use of eye drops to dilate the pupil, enabling a more thorough investigation of the overall health of the eye and the visual system,” AAO says

Thanks to glasses, Amanda is back to being an excellent student. Today’s message is to schedule that eye exam before school starts next month. Your child’s grades will thank you for it.


Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

Offline for maintenance

Pay my bill is currently unavailable.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

To make a payment please call our office at 208-265-1158, mail your payment to: PO Box 1343 Sandpoint, ID 83864, or come by the office at 423 N Third Ste 225.