September 18, 2007

CONTACT: Kate Olderman
(215) 349-8369
kate.olderman@uphs.upenn.edu


Setting Sights on Healthy Vision this School Year
Penn Expert Offers Advice on Preventing, Identifying, and
Correcting Children’s Vision Problems

PHILADELPHIA – As the school year gets underway, common back-to-school activities like reading the blackboard and completing homework assignments may reveal children’s vision problems.  “Good vision is essential for proper physical development and educational progress in growing children,” says Brian Forbes, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Dr. Forbes offers the following advice on preventing, identifying, and correcting children’s vision problems.

What are some warning signs of potential vision problems?
Sitting too close to the television or having difficulty seeing things at a distance – such as the blackboard – can be a sign of nearsightedness or other ocular issues.  Problems with seeing things at a near distance or reading issues can be a sign of extreme farsightedness.  Additionally, esotropia – an inward turning of the eyes – can also be a sign of farsightedness.  Another common vision problem among young children is amblyopia, a cause of unilateral vision loss which often has no signs or symptoms, but can be evaluated through appropriate, early vision screening.

What steps should be taken if a vision problem is suspected?
If you suspect that your child has a vision problem, you should take immediate action to see an ophthalmologist qualified to care for infants and children.

How often should children have their vision tested?
Vision screening should be carried out as part of the annual plan for continuing care beginning at age three.  Additionally, all newborns should be screened for risk factors involving visual problems.  Early detection provides the best opportunity for effective, cost-efficient treatment.

If testing reveals vision problems, what are the best corrective measures for children?
Most young children who require glasses will wear their glasses without a problem because they will notice the positive impact on their vision.  Getting a good frame fit by an optician who is experienced in pediatric eyewear is also an essential step.  The frame should be very comfortable with the eye centered in the middle of the lens, and look like it fits the child now, not one that he/she will grow into.  Lenses made of a polycarbonate will provide the best protection for children, as it is shatterproof.  Parents should remember that it is important to demonstrate a positive attitude about wearing glasses to help minimize potential resistance from their child.

For additional information, visit:
http://www.aao.org/
http://www.aapos.org/

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PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals — its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.


This release is available online at
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/sep07/healthy-vision-school.html