FRIDAY, July 28, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Any back-to-school checklist should include a vision test, since eye problems can seriously impair a child's ability to learn.
So say experts at Prevent Blindness America, who point out that an eye exam or vision screening may be the only way to detect amblyopia (lazy eye), the most common cause of visual impairment in children, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute.
Amblyopia occurs when the brain and an eye don't work together effectively. As the child's brain develops and receives diminished images from the affected eye, the brain begins to suppress the images from the affected eye and favors the unaffected eye. If amblyopia goes untreated, the weaker eye may become useless.
"The most frightening aspect of amblyopia is that your child may have it and not even know it. The child grows up believing that how he or she sees is how everyone else sees," Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America, said in a prepared statement.
"We can't emphasize enough how important it is to have your children's vision checked early on. When detected early, treatment of amblyopia can be highly successful," Garrett said.
The organization has declared August as Children's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month and offers parents and children resources to learn about amblyopia and ways to manage the condition.
To learn more about amblyopia and other children's vision problems, go to Prevent Blindness America.