Much of what children learn, nearly 80%, occurs through the eyes – from reading, writing, computer work, and absorbing the world around them – yet 60 percent of parents don’t feel an eye exam is an essential part of a child’s healthy checkup schedule. In addition, 84 percent of parents admit they wait for a child to complain of a vision issue before taking them in for an eye exam, according to a national survey released today by Think About Your Eyes.
Think About Your Eyes, a national public awareness campaign to promote the importance of an annual comprehensive eye exam, aims to educate consumers of all ages on why exams are an important part of overall health and wellness. The survey includes responses from 1,008 parents across the United States, and the results are unsettling.
“Undiagnosed vision problems can significantly impact a child’s quality of life whether it leads to vision impairment, or total vision loss, or impairs their ability to learn,” said Dave Plogmann, managing director for Think About Your Eyes. “Studies continue to show that children with perceived learning disabilities and behavioral problems actually often suffer from undetected vision problems. Our goal through this national initiative is to shed light on the benefits of healthy vision and annual exams with an eye care provider.”
In its second year as a national program, Think About Your Eyes has already helped boost the number of eye exams scheduled in markets all across the country – a 5 percent increase equaling more than 9 million incremental eye exams which led to the discovery of more than a million undiagnosed cases of eye disease.
But there is still a need to bring greater awareness to the importance of healthy vision. In fact, while this survey found that the majority of parents are waiting for their children to complain of a vision issue before taking them in for an eye exam, the survey also found that nearly every parent included annual trips to the pediatrician and dentist in their routines. Only 2 percent of parents said they would wait to see symptoms before taking their child to a pediatrician or dentist.
With information like this, Think About Your Eyes is setting a goal to make a difference in millions of lives. By the end of year 2020, Think About Your Eyes aims to drive an incremental 50 million Americans to visit their eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.
The survey also uncovered a lack of awareness around suggested timing for a child’s first eye exam. Nearly 50 percent of parents with children under the age of six have never taken their child to the eye doctor. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), children are recommended to receive at least three eye exams by age six before they start school.
“Parents can’t rely on a child to tell them when it’s time to see an eye doctor,” said David A. Cockrell, O.D., president of the AOA. “Children don’t know they’re not seeing well. The vision they have is normal to them, and they can only assume that everyone sees the same way they do.”
The vision community, through Think About Your Eyes, also wants to educate parents on the difference between school vision screenings and a comprehensive eye exam. While a screening can test a child’s ability to see at a distance, it does not provide information on how well the eyes focus up close or how the eyes work together. With increased up close reading, such as that required when using a computer, this information is becoming more critical. During a comprehensive eye exam, an optometrist uses specialized equipment to uncover vision issues at all distances, test depth perception and color and peripheral vision, and examine the overall health of the eyes. In addition to discovering eye disease, an optometrist can also examine the blood vessels of the eye to determine any issues with blood pressure or cholesterol.
To schedule an eye exam or for more information, visit www.thinkaboutyoureyes.com or Think About Your Eyes on Facebook and Twitter.
KRC Research conducted this research via an online survey of 1,008 American parents with kids under the age of 18, from March 11-15, 2015.
About Think About Your Eyes
Think About Your Eyes is a public awareness initiative focused on educating consumers about the importance of vision health and annual comprehensive eye exams. Current partners include The Vision Council, American Optometric Association, All About Vision, GUNNAR Optiks, National Vision, Inc. (NVI), SpecialEyes, SPY, Hilco, Walman Optical, Transitions, Fatheadz, Chemistrie Eyewear, Essilor, Luxottica Group, Eschenbach, Alcon, VisionWorks, and WestGroupe. For more information, visit www.thinkaboutyoureyes.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter.