Patients and Public

Gov. Inslee Proclaims August Children's Vision and Learning Month

Eye care professionals urge families to make children's vision a back-to-school priority, especially with continued use of online learning  

BELLEVUE - August 6, 2020- The Optometric Physicians of Washington (OPW) is joining Gov. Jay Inslee and other vision and eye care professionals in urging families to make children's eye care a back-to-school priority. Inslee has issued a proclamation declaring August 2020 "Children's Vision and Learning Month."

"With most students returning to school via computer screens this fall, vision evaluations should be an even more important component of every family's back-to-school checklist," said Dr. Carrie Murphy, a Lynnwood optometrist and member of the OPW Children's Vision Task Force who was instrumental in developing the proclamation. "Good vision plays an important role in the learning process. And with so much more student time spent on phone and computer screens due to the pandemic, issues like eye fatigue and dry or irritated eyes are more common.  Also, learning predominantly through a screen means that students aren't using different focal points like they would in a classroom, which may mask some potential vision issues."

Murphy added, "It's essential that families take the time to have their children evaluated for potential vision issues so students can start what could be a challenging year off right.

"Vision and learning go hand-in-hand, added Dr. Joanna Haws, chair of the OPW Children's Vision Task Force and a pediatric optometrist from Olympia. "A child's brain learns how to use two eyes to see together, just like it learns how to use legs to walk or a mouth to form words. When a vision problem goes undiagnosed and untreated, a child's brain has to allocate an exorbitant amount of energy to the vision problem, often at the expense of comprehension, attention, or other learning abilities," she said. "Since approximately 80% of learning is received through our visual sense, a vision blur or undiagnosed vision instability from not using the eyes together can cause substantial academic delays.

"Healthy eyes and good vision play a critical role in the learning process. Regular, comprehensive eye exams are the best way to detect and correct vision problems so a child can learn to see clearly," Haws added. "Especially with the shift to online or remote learning during COVID, families really need to make vision care a priority this fall."         

Research shows that vision disorders are the most commonly-occurring disorder in children, and as many as one-in-four school-age children have some type of vision problem that could interfere with learning, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

As Inslee notes in his proclamation, "all children deserve the opportunity to learn and achieve their full potential, and for this reason, public awareness about learning-related vision problems is necessary to ensure that young people receive the prompt vision treatment they need to enhance their lives."

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