Routine eye care important to children’s health

August 18, 2020

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, which underscores the importance of regular exams for early detection and treatment of visual impairment and disease, along with safety precautions to protect young eyes.

We all know that proper nutrition, physical activity, a good night’s sleep, and emotional well-being are important to a child’s health. Another essential component: regular vision screenings to detect and treat impairments and diseases, as some early eye problems can affect vision for life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends eye exams for all children beginning with the first well-baby visit and at regular intervals (or as recommended by their eye doctor) throughout childhood and adolescence. Visual screenings and assessments help detect conditions in children that, if left untreated, might otherwise result in visual impairment, compromised development, and problems with academic performance.

Signs of potential problems

Children’s eyes grow and change as they develop, and a child’s vision can change quickly. Parents and care providers may be the first to notice signs of a potential problem in toddlers, such as abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes (after 6 months of age), constant eye rubbing, extreme light sensitivity, poor visual tracking (following an object), or chronic redness or tearing of the eyes. For school-age children, the inability to see objects at a distance, difficulty reading a blackboard, lack of interest in reading, or sitting too close to the TV may be an indication that something is amiss. Learn more in 20 Things to Know About Children’s Eyes and Vision from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Routine care and safety precautions

Be sure to make routine vision care and eye checks a part of your child's ongoing care. Medical Plan participants* are automatically enrolled in the VSP vision exam benefit, which covers vision screenings when performed in a doctor’s office by having the child read letters of various sizes on a Snellen chart (and includes instrument vision screening for ages 3, 4, and 5 years). The preventive schedule includes a schedule of covered vision screenings for children ages 3 through 18.

Along with routine eye exams, following these safety precautions can help protect your child’s vision:

  • Buy age-appropriate toys (free from sharp or protruding parts) for toddlers.
  • Insist on protective eyewear for adolescents and teens who participate in sports or recreational activities.
  • Make sunglasses an essential part of any child’s outdoor attire (as early as 6 months), to protect from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light.

For more information about vision benefits, or if you have questions, call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN), Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. To find participating VSP providers, search the VSP website or call VSP at 800-877-7195.

*The vision eye exam benefit is not available to those enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan. These plans also have preventive care benefits, but coverage details may differ. Consult your plan’s provisions for details.