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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 29, 2003

Vision Problems Begin Early In Life

The beginning of a new school year is an ideal time to check young children for vision problems. One in 20 preschoolers and one in four children in school develop eye disorders.

September is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month. Eye specialists want parents to know it is possible for a child to have a serious vision problem without being aware of it. Infants should be screened for common eye problems during their regular pediatric appointments, and vision testing should be conducted for all children starting at around age 3. If there is a family history of eye problems or a problem is apparent, speak to your eye specialist promptly about when and how often your child's eyes should be examined.

"Eye screening evaluations are important for children because vision problems often occur without you or your child noticing them," said, Ronald Keech, M.D., a professor of ophthalmology in the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. Keech also serves as director of pediatric ophthalmology and the Adult Strabismus Service at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

"In addition to regular eye screenings, parents should be looking for signs or symptoms of eye problems, such as difficulty seeing the chalkboard or words in a book, abnormal head posture, squinting or excessive light sensitivity," added Keech. "If any of these conditions are noted, or if there is a family history of eye disorders, then a complete examination by an eye care specialist is recommended."

Among the conditions an eye care professional will look for are amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid) and refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism).

"You also have to protect your child's eyes from the danger of eye injuries. Be sure that the toys your child plays with are appropriate for his or her age and maturity level, and avoid toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts," said Richard Olson, UI associate professor (clinical) ophthalmology and a member of the Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus Service. "Sports also could endanger your children's eyes, so make sure they wear appropriate protective eyewear."

For more information, visit the UI Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences online at www.uihealthcare.com/eyecare.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room 8798 JPP, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu