SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Parents have a lot of things to check off on their back-to-school to-do list with shopping and physicals. But another important addition to that list is a stop at the eye doctor.
Making sure kids have healthy eyes goes beyond just the eye exam charts.
“School screenings, you know, they’re well-meaning and they’re trying to help catch eye problems. They can miss a lot of problems too,” Dr. John Sivesind at North Central Eye in Sioux Falls said.
Sivesind says getting school-aged kids’ eyes checked is important to catch myopia, or nearsightedness.
“Myopia is a progressive condition with kids. It is something that could get worse and worse,” Sivesind said. “As kids grow taller, their eyes tend to elongate and as that elongation occurs they become more and more nearsighted.”
Myopia is on the rise in America.
“I’ve looked at some numbers and the statistics and the prevalence of myopia in America today is about 42 percent of Americans have myopia or nearsightedness,” Sivesind said. “That’s up from back in the 70s, it was about 25 percent. You know, so it’s definitely increased.”
Sivesind says getting an eye exam is the best way to catch issues, but there are things parents can look out for too.
“Certainly if you see them squinting or complaining about headaches or eye strain,” Sivesind said. “But really the trump card is to always come in and get your kids’ eyes checked so that we know what’s going on.”
Now sitting in the chair may seem daunting, but it’s important to get your yearly exams to rule out any future issues with your eyes.
“I would just really encourage all parents, anybody that knows of young kids, just to make sure that they’re getting their eyes checked because if we don’t get them checked early enough and we don’t correct their vision early enough, they can end up with less than 20/20 vision the rest of their life,” Sivesind said.
Sivesind also says it’s important to get young kids aged newborn to five years old in for eye exams as well as since kids can be born with farsightedness or astigmatism.