Potsdam ophthalmologist says back-to-school season is time to think about children's eye health
Monday, August 30, 2010 - 2:58 pm

POTSDAM – A Potsdam ophthalmologist says back-to-school time is the right time to think about your child’s eye health.

September is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month, and Dr. Kris VanWagner of CPH Eye Care Center and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) are getting the word out about back-to-school eye examinations for children.

"Parents and teachers should be aware of changes in a child's health, such as frequent headaches, or changes in school performance that may be due to the child's inability to see properly," said Dr. VanWagner. "Vision screening can uncover problems early, in time to correct them and in time to improve performance in school," he said. "In a small percentage of children, screening may uncover more serious problems which should be investigated in a comprehensive eye examination performed by an ophthalmologist," he added.

The AAPOS recommends having a child's vision screened periodically throughout childhood. A number of methods are used depending on the age of the child. Screening can be performed by a family physician or a school nurse. Screening also provides an opportunity for educating parents and children about eye safety.

According to the AAPOS, close to 50% of eye injuries in children happen during participation in sports. "Getting kids involved in sports is a great way to maintain a healthy weight and their health in general, but safety is key," said Dr. VanWagner. "Parents and coaches should enforce the use of face shields and protective glasses, especially in contact or ball sports," he added.

"Science and shop classes are another source of potential eye injury. Most teachers are well aware of the hazards and can set a good example by wearing their own eye protection in class," he said.

AAPOS is a national professional society dedicated to advancing the quality of medical and surgical children's eye care. For more information about the society's activities, including a screening tool for school nurses, visit www.aapos.org.

In addition to providing medical and surgical treatment for conditions and diseases of the eye, Dr. VanWagner is a vocal advocate for preventive health. He frequently gives presentations to the community on eye health, and recently spoke to a community group on the subject of cataracts and eye disease. His practice is located at 49 Lawrence Avenue, in the former St. Mary's School in Potsdam.

For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. VanWagner, patients should call 274-9085.