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New notebooks, pens, and pencils aren’t the only thing parents should be thinking about as children go back to school in just a few weeks. Parents should also look for eye exams for their children before the first day of school, especially for children with PeachCare, the state’s health plan for uninsured kids. Optometrist Dr. Stephen Summerow sees patients year-round, but traffic this time of year gets heavier. As kids in Central Georgia set their sights on going back to school. “Imagine being in a room as a child and everyone else being able to see and to really take part in the lesson but you’re there and you’re not able not because you’re unable, but simply because you can’t see the images sharply,” Summerow says.

He says that could be a reality for some kids who need corrective lenses,especially those insured by state run Medicaid programs, such as PeachCare. Summerow says those patients need to be seen right away. “The glasses have to be sent to their lab,” Summerow says. “That means it could take several weeks for the glasses to come back, so it’s even more important for those patients to come in early so glasses can be ordered. That’s why patients need to focus on scheduling an exam now. That goes for children on private healthcare plans, too. “If you want to get it done prior to school starting, now’s the time,” Summerow says. “Your kids will never tell you they can’t see. You always have to let us make an evaluation on where they are.” Summerow says don’t get blindsided. Be proactive. “You can’t look at a child and tell there’s a vision problem unlike there being something wrong,” Summerow says. “With their arm or leg, you can look at and see there’s a sore, but with vision, eyes look absolutely fine, but they can be very nearsighted or farsighted.” He says even if your child passed a vision exam in the last few years, it’s important to done regularly. “I tell parents all the time, you don’t want your child behind because they can’t see,” Summerow says.

Eye appointments are free, or cost only a few dollars, for children with Peachcare. They offer annual exams for children, and a free pair of glasses.

The American Optometric Association recommends children be examined at least once every two years, or more frequently by recommendation of your eye doctor.