AUGUST 2014 ;e Costco Connection 41
By Claudia M. Caruana
THESE STATISTICS ARE eye openers:
• Between 5 and 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children
have vision problems, many of which are
• Close to 80 percent of American children have not visited an eye-care provider in
the past year.
• More than 80 percent of learning is
based on vision.
If you want your children to do their very
best in school and in sports this year, schedule
a comprehensive eye exam for them now.
Seeing things clearly now
Eye examinations for children going to
school, especially those who are going to
school for the first time, are important.
“Vision is more than just seeing clearly,”
says Dr. Erica Schulman, a professor at the
State University of New York College of
Optometry in New York City. “A child can
have difficulties with eye teaming [eyes not
working together], eye tracking [eyes not following a moving object] and eye focusing, as
well as visual processing problems that can
impact reading and learning.”
A comprehensive vision exam is important to a child’s well-being, says Dr. Dominick
M. Maino, a professor at the Illinois College of
Optometry/Illinois Eye Institute in Chicago.
It’s important to make certain a child is seeing
properly and check for “lazy eye” and eye misalignment—conditions that should and can
be treated early to prevent lifelong vision
problems, he says.
But more important, Maino emphasizes,
is that “an eye-care professional can diagnose
and treat a vision problem early, so a child’s
ability to learn is not hampered. Undetected
and untreated vision problems can interfere
with a child’s ability to learn in school. In
some cases, what were considered learning
disabilities actually was a child’s inability to
see and process information properly.”
THE CENTERS FOR Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) released a cautionary report in June about norovirus,
the leading cause of food-borne ill-nesses. Although norovirus is often
associated with outbreaks on cruise
ships, the majority—more than two-thirds—of outbreaks can be traced back
to restaurants and infected food-service
workers. The CDC estimates that only
1 percent of outbreaks happened on
cruise ships in the four years covered
by the study.
Norovirus affects 20 million people
per year in the U.S. It is the cause of as
many as 71,000 hospitalizations and 800
deaths per year, according to the CDC.
The virus can spread quickly in
closed places such as daycare centers,
nursing homes, schools, dormitories and
cruise ships. Most outbreaks in the U.S.
happen between November and April.
Norovirus is extremely contagious,
and is spread three ways:
• From person to person
• By ingesting contaminated
food or water
• By touching contaminated surfaces (bathroom fixtures, etc.)
The virus causes the infected person’s stomach and/or intestines to
become inflamed (acute gastroenteritis).
This leads to stomach pain, nausea,
diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms
can last for two to three days.
If you have norovirus illness, drink
plenty of liquids to help with dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
Also, do not prepare food or care for
others for at least two days after the
symptoms subside—the time you are
most contagious. And be sure to clean
and disinfect contaminated bathroom
surfaces, using bleach.
The CDC concludes that food-service workers who fail to wash hands or
use gloves, and the 20 percent of workers who admit to reporting for work
when symptomatic (vomiting, diarrhea),
contribute to the frequency of the outbreaks. Improving hand-hygiene routines can have some impact. Ideally,
infected workers should stay home for
two days after symptoms end.
For more information and for access
to the study findings, go to www.cdc.
for your health
Schulman says that after the first eye
examination, it is important to bring the child
back regularly to assess his or her vision
because “eyeglass prescriptions are expected
to change in school-age children. It is also
important to reassess ocular health, as well as
the visual skills, to ensure that vision is not
impacting academic learning.” C
Claudia M. Caruana is a New York–based
medical and science writer who has worn
prescription eyeglasses since she was 13.
of a child
Amblyopia (“lazy eye”): The muscles
surrounding your child’s eye might not be
working properly. Sometimes this can be
caused by crossed eyes or a large difference
in refractive error between two eyes. If left
untreated, permanent vision loss is possible.
Treatment strategy: Early diagnosis
and special exercises prescribed by an eye-care professional as soon as possible.
Strabismus: This is a misalignment of
the eyes and sometimes is responsible for
Treatment strategy: Special eyeglasses,
or possibly surgery, can correct this.
Nearsightedness (myopia): This is
poor far-distance vision.
Farsightedness (hyperopia): This is
poor near-distance vision.
Astigmatism: This is an imperfect curvature of the cornea, which interferes with
how light is focused in the eye. It often
focuses light on the imperfect curvature of
the front surface of the eye.
Treatment strategies: Prescription eyeglasses fitted by an eye-care professional.
The Costco Connection
Eye exams, prescription eyeglasses and contacts are available at Costco Optical Centers.
problems in children
In our digital editions
Watch a video that provides additional information about children’s
eye exams. (See page 12 for details.)