As I write this on August 1st we will be sending the kids back to school in just a few days. All parents want their children to do well and excel in the classroom, so have you thought about what role vision plays in classroom performance? Some problems like near-sightedness also called myopia are pretty obvious because when you can’t read the board from the back of the classroom you can expect to have trouble keeping up with what the teacher is writing. There are other problems that can also affect a child’s school performance. One of these is astigmatism which can affect the way in which the eyes hold and maintain focus. A common complaint here is a headache or child complaining of their “eyes hurt” when they are trying to read or use a computer. Far-sightedness also called hyperopia is another condition that can cause headaches or reading problems because it places too much strain on the eyes and the muscles in control of focusing. There are also other issues that affect the eyes ability to work together as a team. When the larger muscles that position the eyes don’t get both eyes pointed in the right direction then vision can appear fuzzy or doubled. Large defects here like a crossed eye may be easy to spot but most muscle control problems are actually quite small. These conditions can be easily missed at a vision screening because if you check one eye at a time they can be normal, the problem doesn’t show until you try and look with both eyes and view something requiring good binocular vision. A great example here is someone who has trouble seeing the 3D effect or complains of their eyes hurting while watching a 3D movie in a theater. With all this in mind the next question is how often to check your child’s eyes? In Kentucky we have a requirement to have them checked when staring school, is that enough? While the year starting to preschool or kindergarten is a great place to begin remember that your child’s eyes continue to grow and develop along with the rest of their body. The American Optometric Association recommends all school age children have an exam every two years, or for those that wear glasses already every year to keep the prescription accurate and most effective. So I do wish all students good luck with their studies this year and encourage all parents to give us a call so we can help make sure you child’s eyes are ready to help them succeed.