As children prepare to head back to school in a few weeks, there is one thing they should get in addition to backpacks, clothes and pencils: an eye examination.
"We want to give kids every chance they can get," Dr. Charles Keller of Seneca Eye Surgeons said.
Keller said it is important that children don't start school with vision problems and get behind before they even start.
He said children should get their eyes checked at least before kindergarten or anytime a problem is suspected. However, some optometrists will even check infants for eye problems, Keller said.
According to a press release from the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA), children should have their first eye "assessment" at six months and then begin at age three with "comprehensive" exams.
Keller said that eyes should be checked yearly, unless a problem is suspected, and that young adults out of high school and in college should be checked every two years.
He said it is often important that children get their eyes checked before the school year begins because sometimes they can pick up vision problems the child and the parent were unaware of.
Keller said sometimes children come in and they don't known that they can't see out of one eye.
He said some tell-tale signs a child is having trouble with his or her vision are: eyes crossing or turning, running into walls with one particular side of the body, having trouble judging depth when throwing or hitting a ball and having a hard time reading.
The POA adds: losing place while reading, avoiding close work, frequently rubbing eyes, frequent headaches and frequently squinting while reading or watching television.
The POA reported that one in four students have a visual impairment and about 86 percent of children start school without ever getting an eye exam.
The Warren Lioness Club will hold an eye screening in February, during the week of pre-registration for kindergarten in the Warren County School District.