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Vision Problems Affect One in Four School-Aged Children

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August 23, 2011

August 15, 2011 - For southern Kentucky schoolchildren, the first day of school has already come and gone. And, most parents know "back to school" requires a lot of preparation to make sure that their child has all of the tools to succeed this school year. A key part of this success starts with healthy eyesight in the classroom.

A child's ability to see the blackboard and the words on a page clearly is critical to their learning experience. August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Awareness month and Greenview Regional Hospital encourages parents to learn about ways they can help protect their child's vision.

Often children do not realize they have problems with their vision because they think how they see is how everyone else sees. They learn to compensate for their vision problems without correcting them, which can lead to more problems in school and later in life. Unfortunately, some students are misdiagnosed as having a learning disability or behavioral problems, when they may simply have vision impairment. This confusion can be eliminated by taking a child for a certified vision screening or an eye exam.

"Vision problems affect one in four school-aged children. We want all parents to make sure their child's eye problems do not go unnoticed this school year," said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. "A child should not have to struggle in school because of an undetected vision problem."

Eye problems can range from common refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, to serious eye conditions including:

Amblyopia or "lazy eye" - the most common cause of visual impairment in children. As the brain develops and receives diminished images from the affected eye, it begins to suppress those images and favor the unaffected eye. If this condition persists, the weaker eye may become useless. Amblyopia becomes more difficult to treat effectively as the child becomes older.

Strabismus or "crossed eyes" - a condition where eyes are misaligned, or do not line up with each other. This problem is caused when the muscles do not work together. Strabismus may eventually lead to amblyopia. Approximately one in 50 children has strabismus.

Parents should hit the books as well to learn more about how to keep their children's eyes healthy. Prevent Blindness America has created "Star Pupils," a free program specifically designed to educate parents on what they can do to ensure healthy eyesight for their kids. The Star pupils Web site has free information on everything from common eye conditions in children to tips on how to protect eyes from injury while playing sports. For more information on children's eye health and safety, please call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020.

About Greenview Regional Hospital
Celebrating 39 years of providing quality healthcare to southern Kentucky, Greenview Regional Hospital is a 211-bed, community-based facility with comprehensive medical and surgical programs including Neurosciences, Orthopaedics, 24-Hour Emergency Department, Digital Mammography, and other services. An affiliate of the TriStar Health System, Greenview Regional Hospital was the first Accredited Chest Pain Center in Kentucky, increasing thelikelihood of survival in a cardiac emergency by 37 percent. For more information about the services offered and health plans accepted by Greenview Regional Hospital or TriStar Health System, call TriStar MedLine at 800-242-5662 or visit the website at TriStarHealth.com and choose Greenview Regional Hospital.

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