Volume 20 - August, 2020
Illuminations Newsletter
Young boy getting his vision checked with words Child Health and Safety Month
August is Declared Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month 
Young girl with long brown hair getting vision checked by a doctor
In August, most children are getting ready for a new school year, whether in person or virtually - they gather their school supplies, get new clothes and may get a physical or required immunizations, but rarely do they add vision screenings to their "back-to-school" list. However, healthy and corrected vision is critical to a successful academic year. As a child grows, an untreated eye disease or condition becomes more difficult to correct. These can worsen and lead to other serious problems such as reading ability, focus, behavior, personality and social adjustment in school.

The National Optometric Association (NOA) has declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. The Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches and community partners such as the Caridad Center, South Florida Science Museum and Head Start, typically conduct back-to-school vision screenings on children this time of year, but due to COVID-19, these public activities have been postponed until it is safe to do so. Through the screenings, the Lighthouse and its partners educate parents and caregivers on the steps that should be taken to ensure that their children are provided with the best opportunity to have a successful school year through healthy vision.

“By diagnosing and treating vision problems early, it actually helps prevent vision loss later in life,” said Mary Allen, Director of Vision Services at Lighthouse for the Blind. “Vision is so instrumental in how a child develops. A child may be at higher risk of developing a vision problem if he or she was born prematurely (less than 32 weeks completed gestation); has a family history of vision disorders or has had an eye injury.”

Vision disorders can affect a babies’ ability to bond with their parent/caregiver, their ability to explore the world by reaching and grasping, and also impede development of fine and gross motor skills. One in every 4 school-age children have some form of vision problem requiring treatment, 24% of teens with correctable vision have the wrong prescription and 80% of all blindness and vision impairment is either preventable or treatable.

For a guide to developmental vision milestones visit the Lighthouse website.
Photo of a baby with retinoblastoma in right eye
Signs that your child may have
vision problems:

  • The pupil appears to be white in one or both of your child’s eyes. Look closely at photographs of your baby. If the red glow is not the same in both eyes or is white or yellow in one eye, this may indicate a vision problem. Show photographs to your child’s health care provider.
  • Eyes don’t line up or don’t move together (one eye appears to turn in, out, up, or down) at any age, and especially after age 4 months. If your baby’s eyes constantly seem to look in different directions, visit an eye doctor right away.
  • Eyelids are red-rimmed, crusted, or swollen for more than 24 hours.
  • Eyes are watery or red with tears running down the cheeks when your child is not crying.
  • One or both eyelids droop, nearly covering the colored part of the eye (iris).
  • One pupil looks larger than the other pupil.
  • Eyes seem to bounce, dance, shake, or wobble.
  • One or both eyes look cloudy.
  • Rubs eyes often.
  • Closes or covers one eye when looking at a book or toy.
  • Always tilts head to one side, especially when playing with toys, or pushes head forward or backward in an effort to see objects better.
  • Blinks eyes more than usual or more than other children.
  • Frequently squints, as if trying to focus on an object.
  • Seems clumsy or frequently bumps into objects.
  • Holds books or toys close to eyes. 
Baby boy holding a koala with an eye patch over his left eye
Young girl in brown braids with an eye patch on her right eye
August is also Amblyopia Awareness Month
What Is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia (\ˌam-blē-ˈō-pē-ə\) is a condition that can develop when one eye has poor vision (lazy eye). The brain favors the “good” eye and ignores the images coming from the eye with poor vision. This prevents vision from fully developing and can cause permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

According to the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, amblyopia is the number one cause of childhood vision loss, unfortunately, only about 20 percent of children in Florida are appropriately screened for it, which is a preventable and completely treatable form of vision loss if detected at an early age. That’s why it’s important for all kids to get a vision screening before age 5.

The Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches and community partners will resume vision screenings on children once it is safe to do so. For more information on Amblyopia.
Meet Terri, she was recently featured in the Palm Beach Post. Lighthouse is the non-profit in the story and Anne, and her dog Eddie is the employee that inspired her.
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Lighthouse for the Blind.
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