Did you know that 80% of what we learn comes from our visual system? Yet our schools do not require children to have eye exams prior to school entry. They are required to have immunizations, and in some states a dental exam, but not a vision exam. Why not? Good question. The reasoning in the past has been “we have school vision screenings” or, “my pediatrician checks vision at the wellness exam, isn’t that enough?” Well, no, sadly it is not. While school nurses and pediatricians do their best, it is impossible to do all the testing required to adequately asses the visual system in a school screening or a child well check. False negatives, ie, children who pass a vision screening who should not, can be as high as 20-30%. The most commonly missed conditions are amblyopia, high amounts of farsightedness (which require dilation to detect), and binocular vision problems. 20/20 does not always indicate perfect vision. Our son was born with amblyopia. It was only by checking him with a complete eye examination at the office that included dilation and binocular vision testing that we were able to detect the problem. Our pediatrician did not detect the problem nor did his school. With prompt intervention we were able to save the vision in the bad eye and get our son’s eyes to work together. But had we not checked him, likely the problem would have gone undetected until it was too late to treat. Our son was able to enjoy a successful baseball career due to the fact that his parents are eye doctors. Every child deserves to see their best to follow their dreams and excel in school.
Drs. Planitz and Clatanoff