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In conjunction with Back to School time, Dr. Wally El-Hitamy of Lakeway Eye Center is working with Optos to launch a program aimed at educating parents about the importance of regular eye examinations for children.

It is estimated that 80 percent of what children learn during their first 12 years is related to sight, yet unfortunately 86 percent of children in the U.S. start school without first having a comprehensive eye exam.

“The link between learning and eyesight is compelling,” El-Hitamy stated. “Regular eye exams that include a thorough assessment of the retina are crucial for children of all ages, particularly before the child starts school, as poor eyesight can affect a child’s educational performance and social development. optomap ultra-wide digital retinal imaging is fast, painless and comfortable for patients of all ages, making it ideal for children who can be more difficult to examine.”

Optos’ commitment to educating parents on the importance of having their children’s eyes checked regularly stems from its origin – the optomap is the brainchild of Douglas Anderson, founder of Optos, whose son lost sight in one eye at the age of 5 because of an undetected retinal detachment.

After this tragedy, Anderson set out to develop a system that not only could capture an unprecedented wide view of the retina, which is the back of the eye, but that was also patient friendly, particularly for children who tend to be more difficult to examine.

Consider these facts:

•According to the American Optometric Association, 60 percent of children who are identified as problem learners have undetected vision problems;

•Vision problems affect one in 20 pre-schoolers and one in four school-age children. If left untreated, the problems can worsen and lead to other serious problems as well as affect learning ability, personality and adjustment in school; and

•The best way to protect a child’s eyes is through professional eye examinations, beginning shortly after birth, at six months of age, before entering school (age 4 or 5) and periodically throughout the school years.

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