Avera Medical Minute AMcK: First comprehensive eye exam recommended by preschool age

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Eye screenings do more than detecting the need for glasses. You can protect your health with regular, comprehensive eye exams.

“We just came in to get the girls’ eyes checked and make sure that they’re all healthy,” said Ashley Artz of Sioux Falls.

“I think building eye exams into your summertime schedule is definitely important,” said Joseph Martin, orthoptist with Avera Medical Group Eye Care.

Eye exams for sisters 7-year-old Jacey and 9-year-old Landri are on mom Ashley Artz’s check list.

“I’ve always struggled with my vision. I’m a teacher so I see a lot of it in school, too, so that’s really important that my kids are able to see when they’re at school just so they’re able to learn everything,” said Artz.

“Get them in for an eye exam and make sure they are ready to go when the school year starts in the fall,” said Martin.

Martin sees patients as young as two-weeks-old.

“The nice thing is the medical community does a great job of screening kids. And so we’re getting checked at our pediatricians, at our daycares, at our preschools but I would say if you haven’t had a real thorough eye exam or a screening by the time you hit those preschool years, I would definitely recommend you coming in for a full exam,” said Martin.

Martin says don’t hesitate to have your child’s eyes checked if you have a concern.

“They don’t necessarily have to be old enough to read the eye chart or participate in the exam, we have lots of ways to kind of assess the visual system, figure out where they are developmentally and get an idea of where they are moving forward,” said Martin.

And it’s better to bring them in sooner than later if you do think something is wrong.

“Our visual system develops from the day we’re born to around 7 or 8 and so it kind of gives us a window of time to really pick up on these eye issues and we want to, if we can, treat those issues at the front part of that window before they get away from us,” said Martin.

Martin makes it a fun experience for little ones.

“We have lots of different games and things we play with the kids. We’ve got some fun glasses that they can wear, 3-D glasses, we watch movies and have toys. We do all kinds of things and try to make them feel comfortable and work at their level,” said Martin.

And for mom --

“It’s wonderful to know because you know, it’s hard for them to express sometimes. They might not know that they’re not seeing properly so even just to get their eyes looked over by somebody who knows about it and then just tell you that everything looks great is just a good feeling,” said Artz.

For more information, visit avera.org.