Pencils, backpacks and rulers – those are on most back-to-school checklists.
We, as parents, prepare all the essentials for our children to head back into the classroom. But oftentimes, we aren’t thinking about our children’s vision when summer is coming to an end and school is just beginning.
Children with poor vision do not necessarily know how well they should be seeing and typically do not express that they are experiencing difficulties. Many children struggle needlessly with vision problems simply because they don’t know they have one. And most parents are also unaware of issues since detection is difficult by simple observation.
The free vision screenings that we, at Northeast Sight Services, offer in all preschools, day cares, and kindergarten registrations are essential because they can detect a potential vision issue in your child. More than 5,000 preschool-aged children are screened each year through our services – and of those who are referred for a comprehensive eye exam, most only need a simple pair of glasses to correct their vision.
We know how important early detection is (and eyeglasses are) for a child to be able to succeed in school. Eighty percent of what a child learns before age 12 is comprised of visual cues with children spending most of the school day reading, looking at a blackboard and using laptops and tablets.
For a child in school, vision correction can make all the difference in their academic performance, as well as their ability to play sports and interact with others. In fact, undetected vision problems in children may manifest as signs of learning disabilities, such as frustration, inability to pay attention or follow instructions, frequently missing words or reversal of words, and/or the inability to maintain place while reading.
One out of four children has a vision problem. And yet 64 percent of children under the age of 5 have never had a vision screening and an even higher percentage have never had a comprehensive eye exam by an eye care professional.
In order to ensure that children enter school ready to learn – and as part of our year-long centennial celebrations – we invite you to a free back-to-school vision screening from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday at our location at 1825 Wyoming Ave., Exeter. In addition to the vision screenings, there will be free food, music and games for the whole family.
More back-to-school items can also be marked off your list, as through an extraordinarily generous partnership with The Allstate Foundation, free backpacks will be given to the first 50 participants screened. And all children will receive school supplies, thanks to 15 local Allstate agency owners, who are currently collecting donations at their businesses.
As an added bonus, free child IDs for each participant are included if desired, as Kristen Martin of New York Life will be on hand to take your child’s photo, fingerprints, contact information, and other pertinent data needed by the police in case of an emergency.
So come on out to Northeast Sight Services on Thursday to cross off some of those key back-to-school checklist items. Hope to see you there.
Sara Gorgone Peperno is the president and CEO of Northeast Sight Services. She contributes a monthly column to the Times Leader.