August of 2015 is nationally recognized as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Physicians, advocates and parents are working to spread awareness on children’s vision issues and the importance of routine vision screening and overall eye health checkups during pediatric visits beginning as early as age three. According to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH), one in five children has never undergone a vision test by a medical professional. Vision and eye problems are closely tied to the development of anxiety, depression and social withdrawal, making these checkups integral to both physical and mental health.
The sponsors of Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month are the American Academy of Ophthalmologists and Prevent Blindness America. The latter states that the specific purpose of this awareness month in 2015 is to provide “information about amblyopia, a condition that can affect 2 to 3 percent of children and cause permanent vision loss.” Other notable goals for the month include spreading “tips about preventing eye injuries in children, signs of possible eye problems and general eye health.” For instance, warning signs regarding children’s eye health include crossed eyes, lazy eyes, excessive squinting or struggling to view words or objects, lack of interest in reading or activities that require good vision and a family history of early-onset vision issues.
Amblyopia, the focus of this month’s awareness, is an eye condition for which treatment is most effective when diagnosed early. The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) describes amblyopia as the condition in which “one eye experiences a blurred view and the other a normal view, but the brain only processes the normal view.” There are many forms of the condition, also referred to as “lazy eye.” Amblyopia is often corrected by putting an eye patch over the individual’s healthy eye, forcing the weak eye to gain functioning and strength.
Due to the strong connection between eye health and mental health, Sovereign Health Group supports Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. If you or a loved one is struggling with a depression, anxiety or another mental health disorder as a result of poor eye health or vision loss, help is available. Sovereign specializes in treating individuals struggling with mental health disorders, substance abuse issues and dual diagnosis. Call (866) 819-0427 to speak with a professional today.
Eyes on the prize part 2: Vision problems affecting childhood development
Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health Group writer