Eye exams are now required for children ages 3 to 6 when first starting public school or preschool

Add eye exams to your back-to-school checklist, because state law now requires children aged 3 through 6 who are entering a public school or preschool program for the first time to have a vision exam.

“Studies show that vision problems are a major factor in limiting children’s abilities to learn and succeed,” said Dr. Tonia Batts, a Mayfield optometrist, said in a news release from the Kentucky Optometric Association. “Having children’s eyes examined is one of the most important things parents can do to support their children’s education and good health. . . . Many problems may not be obvious to them or their children’s teachers.”

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent loss of sight from amblyopia, which most people call “lazy eye.” Half of amblyopia cases are not diagnosed until after age 5, when it is difficult to correct, Batts said. Amblyopia the leading cause of vision loss in people under age 40, more than injuries or any other disease, but if detected early, is 100 percent treatable.

Batts said an eye examination is particularly important if your child loses place while reading; avoids close work; tends to rub his or her eyes; complains of frequent headaches; squints to use only one eye or consistently performs below academic potential.

Eye exams are covered by many private insurance plans, Medicaid and the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Private programs may also help families with eye exam expenses. The Kentucky Vision Project, sponsored by the Kentucky Optometric Association, has donated millions of dollars in vision care, says the group’s news release. Sight for Students and the Lions Club have other programs that can help.

To find an optometrist in your area, click here.

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