At birth, vision is one of babies’ least-developed senses. It catches up quickly by the time they’re about 4 months old, and their eyes are one of their most important tools for learning about their world. But that’s not to say that all kids have 20/20 vision – any genetic conditions like farsightedness, nearsightedness or lazy eye are already present, and screening can catch them. That’s important, because as much as 80 percent of what children learn as preschoolers and elementary students comes to them visually.
Only 15 percent of preschoolers get vision screening, according to the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. That’s why it offers free eye checkups to youngsters at preschools, child care centers and public venues like the Saint Louis Science Center, where it will host a free screening event Aug. 6 to 8.
The screenings are quick and non-invasive. Technicians use a hand-held scanner to check the child’s eyes and the results are printed out so parents have a reminder to follow up, if needed, by making an appointment with an optometrist.
Children ages 6 months to 6 years can be screened. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. For details or to set up a screening at your preschool or child care center, call 800-753-2265.
By Amy De La Hunt, Health Blogger for SmartParenting
Amy De La Hunt is a journalist and editor who lives in the St. Louis metro area and works across the country as a writer, copy editor, project manager and editorial consultant on everything from fiction books to monthly magazines to blog posts. When she's not chauffeuring her teenage sons to activities, Amy is an enthusiastic amateur cook, landscaper, Latin dancer and traveler. Follow Amy on Instagram @amy_in_words
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