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Back To School, Back To The Eye Doctor

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Now that children are back in the school, doctors say it's a good time to have their vision checked.

According to the National Commission on Vision and Health, 79 percent of kids between the ages of 5 and 17 have not visited an eye doctor in the past year. Among that same age group, 35 percent have never seen an eye care professional once.

Parents may be wondering when to take their kids in for an eye exam and whether or not their son or daughter is too young for contact lenses.

That was the situation for Amanda Hadden's parents two years ago when she had trouble seeing the board at school.

"I had a spot in the back (of the class), so sometimes I had to ask my friends what the board says," said Amanda, who was prescribed glasses and contacts at 9 years old. "I think I was one of the first kids to have contacts."

Some may think contacts aren't suitable for a 9-year-old.

"It depends on the child of course," says Dr. Scott Hadden, an optometrist at the Wal-Mart Vision Center in Bloomington, and also Amanda's father. "We put (kids) through the trial process first, and I had a child as young as 5 years old in contacts lenses that amazed me how well she did. She was in figure skating and she just did phenomenally well."

Experts say now is a good time for an eye exam for a child, because putting it off can lead to difficulties in class, and some kids may not speak up about it.

"Especially with younger kids, they don't always verbalize that they can't see," said Hadden. "They may be rubbing their eyes complaining of headaches or tilting their head to the side."

Hadden checks his daughter's eyes twice a year, and doctors recommend an eye exam at least once a year, which most insurance plans will cover. Otherwise, they run $75 at places like Wal-Mart. Complete pairs of glasses start at $38.


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