Channing Schaff works on correcting his eyesight with certified orthoptist Joseph Martin
It's estimated that more than 5 million elementary students have poor vision. If left untreated it's not just grades that suffer. When it comes to your child's vision, the sooner their vision is checked and corrected; the better.
"F, C, B, D, E." Channing Schaff answered.
Yes they are just a few random letters, but to Liz Schaff they are a sign that her son Channing is seeing clearly thanks to his stylish specs.
"I don't really ever feel them, I never really know that they're usually on!" Said Channing Schaff.
A little over two years ago, reading an eye chart would have been impossible for Channing. Luckily his parents took him in to get his eyes checked, otherwise his poor vision could've gone unnoticed.
"Kids they are born that way and they don't know any different so they're not going to complain unless something changes. Now once they get into school they might complain about not seeing the board or something like that and that's a good indicator once again that you probably need to bring them in." Said Dr. Jeffrey Stevens, an Ophthalmologist with the Avera Medical Group Ophthalmology.
Just like the dentist, Dr. Stevens says all kids between two and four should have their eyes screened. This gives doctors the best chance to help catch and correct problems early.
"The brain is actually learning how to use the eyes in that time period so you're sense of depth perception is developing, your vision is developing and so you want to catch it in that window to treat it." Said Joseph Martin, South Dakota's only certified orthoptist.
With today's latest technology, certified orthoptist can quickly identify a child's eye problems by using kid-friendly vision screeners. These machines help take away the anxiety of a traditional or more adult eye exam.
We take a picture of the child's eyes based on the length and the shape of the eyes we get a reading in terms of farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. It compares the refractive area between the two eyes looking for a difference and looks at pupil size and the alignment of the eyes so you get a lot of information in just a few seconds." Said Martin.
In Channing's case, his screen was off the charts. Channing has what's called accommodative esotropia, which means his eyes are 2-3 times more farsighted than normal. Because his eyes are always trying to focus they also tend to cross, this condition is called Amblyopia. Now with his glasses it's like looking at a whole new world.
"One: he can see much clearer with a lot less effort and two: he gets a clear image from both eyes so he learns how to use his eyes together to actually have 3D and depth perception; things he was lacking before." Said Martin.
For Channing the biggest benefit is just being able to enjoy being a kid.
"like if my friend is far away and I'm far away and looking for him to play with, I can always see him!" Said Channing Schaff.
"Thank goodness we caught it early and he got into glasses right away it didn't slow him down one bit he got used to wearing them quickly and there was no hassle with him whatsoever." Said Liz Schaff.
According to mom and the report cards, Channing is quite the honor student.
Jake: what would you say is your favorite class?
Channing: probably library!
While the glasses may not be the only contributor to Channing's good grades, seeing the world and classroom clearly probably doesn't hurt.
If you would like more information on pediatric eye screens there is a community education event on Tuesday, October 22 at the Avera Living Well Center on S. Minnesota Avenue. The event starts at 6pm and is open to all parents and families who want to learn more. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.