It’s back-to-school time for ophthalmologists and time to remind parents to check one of their kids’ most important learning tools, their eyes. It’s also time to call up your favorite local reporter and become a source on this important topic.

Here are some good, media-friendly talking points:

Get regular childhood vision screenings – Children’s eyes change rapidly, which make regular vision screenings an important step in detecting and correcting eye problems early. In addition to screenings for infants, AAO recommends vision screening for children when they are:

• Pre-school age, between age 3 and 3-and-a-half
• Entering school
• Experiencing a possible vision problem

For school-age children, a vision screening, which is less comprehensive than a dilated eye examination by an ophthalmologist, can be performed by a pediatrician, family physician, nurse or trained technician during regular checkups. If the screening detects a problem, the child may need to see an ophthalmologist.

Know and share your family eye health history –Find out whether eye conditions or diseases run in their family. Parents should share that information with the person performing the screening when possible. Examples of common eye conditions include nearsightedness, strabismus, and amblyopia. If these are not treated in childhood, they can cause permanent vision loss in one eye.

Tell parents to watch for early warning symptoms that could indicate an eye or vision problem, such as complaints of eyestrain, headaches and squinting when reading or performing other common activities. Other symptoms they should look for include a white or grayish-white coloring in the pupil, one eye that turns in or out, or eyes that don’t track together.

Your child needs to wear protective eyewear when playing sports – Eye injuries from sports can cause serious damage, whether it’s an unintentional elbow during basketball or a wild pitch in baseball. Racket sports, hockey, field hockey, baseball or basketball, all call for goggles or other certified protective eyewear.

We hope you enjoy your July talking points.