Medical Minute: Children’s Eye Health

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MINOT, N.D. - Kids may not want to hear this, but it's time for back to school.

That means new clothes, freshly sharpened pencils and cafeteria lunches.

For a growing number of children it should also mean new glasses. August is Children's Eye Health Awareness month.

Children have different eye health needs than adults, and they can't always vocalize if something is wrong.

"One of the reasons to bring them in for an exam is to see what they see because it's not common for a younger child to say they can't see something because that's just their normal," Optometrist Bradley Schimke said.

Back to school is the perfect time to schedule these appointments so that children can get the best start to a new year.

"School aged kids, that third to fifth grade, as kids go through growth spurts, that's when we see near-sightedness becoming more prevalent," Schimke said.

Near-sightedness is when objects far away are blurry or difficult to see - objects like the chalkboard or teacher, crucial pieces to a successful education.

And with popular figures making glasses cool, plus the benefit of seeing getting kids to wear glasses isn't as difficult as you may think.

"They like being clear. So when we find kids that have vision issues, and we show them what they can see with their glasses, it's not that hard to get them to wear their glasses because we like to be clear," Schimke said.

As for anxiety about the actual appointment, Schimke says this may be the easiest doctor's appointment you have to go through.

"The nice thing is we don't do anything that hurts. There's no shots, the lights are like the flash bulbs on the camera. It's easy. A lot of it is games and what can you see, when can you see this. By the time the exam is over the kids that were nervous say that was fun, let's do it again," Schimke said.

Everyone should get their eyes checked once a year. For kids it's recommended to start around three or four, but you can go earlier if you notice a problem.