Vision screening important for babies
Children are a gift and no one knows that better than a new mother.
Noeline Clark of the St. Nicholas neighborhood is the new mother of twins, Madeline Rachel and Owen David, born April 21 at Memorial Hospital.
“It is such an exciting experience to become a mom,” said Clark. “Having two at a time doubles the blessings.”
One of the experiences a newborn infant has in the hospital’s nursery is a vision screening. As a board member of the Vision Is Priceless Council, Clark is well aware of the importance of early childhood vision screening.
“It is with my experience on the board of the Vision Is Priceless Council that I have learned about the successful results that may come from early detection and treatment of vision problems,” she said.
Noeline Clark with her twins, Owen and Madeline, knows the value of early vision checks. Special
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical organizations, newborns should be examined for structural abnormalities in the eye, such as cataract, corneal clouding and other conditions that are known to result in visual problems. Children who are found to have an eye abnormality or who fail vision assessment should be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
It is important for newborns, babies, toddlers and children to be screened at all well-child check-ups. Usually, the pediatrician will examine a child using one or more screenings, including red reflex, corneal light reflex, cover testing and/or preliterate eye chart testing, which is the type of screening done by the VIP Council.
“Being a new mom, I am so dependent upon the professional expertise of the medical personnel,” said Clark. “With what I do know about vision screening, I was pleased to learn that the twins had been screened and appear to have healthy vision.”
With a traveling program that focuses on children ages 3 to 5 throughout Northeast Florida, VIP Council screens the vision of thousands of young children each year. Using four simple shapes — an apple, house, circle and square — and a back-lit eye chart, specially trained staff and volunteers assist preschoolers with keeping their healthy vision through identification of potential problems. Should a problem be detected during a screening, parents are advised to take the child to an eye care professional for a complete exam.
“I have seen the VIP Council screen thousands of the First Coast’s preschool children each year,” Clark said. “I have also seen grateful parents who have experienced the results of early detection and treatment.”
At home, parents should watch for squinting and excessive blinking, as these could be a signs of a vision problem. Headaches, eye pain, persistent tearing, discharge or redness may be warning signs and should be brought to the attention of your pediatrician or eye care professional.
Parents are encouraged to provide a balanced diet to maintain healthy vision for young children. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables to provide the vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain eye health as well as general overall health.
“It was always important to me when I heard a story of yet another child whose vision was saved through VIP Council, but now as a new mother the experience has touched home,” Clark said. “Now I’m an advocate to all mothers about the importance of screening your child’s vision. Nearly all eye problems in young children may be treated. The key to success is early detection, so why wait?”
The non-profit Vision Is Priceless Council works to preserve the vision of Northeast Florida residents through programs such as free screening and early detection of potential eye disease. For more information, call 308-2020 or visit Jacksonville.com, keywords: vision is priceless.