Mom in Florida stresses importance of eye exams for children amid pandemic

Posted at 1:59 PM, Sep 08, 2020

Families may be putting off eye exams over COVID-19 concerns, but one mom in Florida says keeping an eye out for warning signs is crucial right now as eye doctors adapt to keep kids safe and rebound after extra time at home.

Toddlers tend to fall when they're learning how to walk. Just like Erin Miller's daughter.

"My daughter was 15 months old," said Miller. "She seems to be falling a lot."

So they took her to a free public vision screening put on by For Eye Care Foundation on Florida's east coast.

"She was screened by Dr. Cano and he gave my mom a printout and said that there were some red flags," Miller said.

Turns out, she's nearsighted in one eye but farsighted in the other.

It's called amblyopia, or lazy eye. It's a condition that can lead to permanent damage if not caught early.

"If we can screen these children before their eyes mature they can be treated and prevent visual loss," said Dr. Cano.

That's why Dr. Cano says you shouldn't put off a visit to the eye doctor because of the pandemic. There are tools available to keep kids safe.

"One of the nice devices that we use, which I happen to have with me, is this device," Cano said. "It allows us to be over six feet away from the child."

Keeping social distance while keeping eyes healthy, Florida Society of Ophthalmology also offers resources for quick and easy at-home vision tests to help parents and guardians whose children might be spending more time at home.

Miller's daughter is two now and doing just fine with her glasses, and they're grateful to have caught the issue early.

"Incredibly grateful," said Miller. "I'm a special educator. I understand the importance of early intervention."

It's a good reminder to keep a close eye on your child's vision.

"We feel very blessed that we were in the right place at the right time," said Miller.

Right now, fewer than 20 percent of preschool children are screened for vision problems, according to the Florida Society of Ophthalmology.

To access the American Academy of Ophthalmology's site for at-home eye tests, click here.

For more information and resources for amblyopia, click here.

This story was first reported by Channing Frampton at WTXL in Tallahassee, Florida.