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Make Children’s Eye Health a Priority

September 16, 2016 - 11:00am

Did you know children should begin receiving thorough eye examinations by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist by the age of 3 to ensure their vision is developing properly?

 According to the American Optometric Association, one in four children has a vision-related condition. Amblyopia (lazy eye) and refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) are too often left undiagnosed and untreated and can lead to long-term, irreversible vision issues.
 
Children with uncorrected vision conditions may also face many barriers in life, including poor academic performance, fatigue and impaired eye-to-hand coordination.
 
That’s why Sunshine Health, in coordination with Envolve Vision, is working to educate parents and legal guardians about the importance of routine eye exams -- to help children reach their greatest potential. Sunshine Health, a Medicaid managed care health plan that has been serving Florida members since 2009, is committed to improving the health of the community, one person at a time, through coordinated care and a network of support.
 
An estimated 80 percent of our children’s learning is visual. When their vision is not functioning properly, their education can suffer.
 
Children with undiagnosed and untreated vision problems are more likely to find learning to be difficult and stressful. They may avoid reading, have a lower level of reading comprehension or efficiency and experience a short attention span.
 
By making sure any vision problems are detected and treated early, we are giving our children the best chance to succeed in school and at play.
 
That’s why Sunshine Health members’ primary care doctors remind parents about making annual eye exam appointments, and Envolve Vision is there to provide health plan members with access to quality eye care providers. As a result of this carved-in approach to healthcare, more Sunshine Health children are getting screened earlier and more frequently, thereby reducing the risk of long-term and often avoidable vision complications.
 
Our children deserve the opportunity to thrive as they grow and develop. Eyesight is an extremely important sensory function that contributes to an individual’s overall health and well-being.
 
Children often do not know to tell you they have a vision problem because they may think the way they see is just the way everyone sees. It is important to look for signs that may indicate your child has a vision problem. These can include frequent eye rubbing or blinking, covering one eye, tilting their head to one side, frequent headaches, holding reading materials close to their face, losing place when reading or avoiding reading and other close activities altogether.
 
Because a child’s vision can change frequently throughout their development, regular eye and vision care is important. As the school year begins, Sunshine Health and Envolve Vision reminds parents and legal guardians to make children’s eye health and safety a priority to help enable children to reach their highest potential. With annual eye exams, we can ensure our children have the best possible tools to learn successfully.
 
Dr. Jeffrey Martorana is the chief medical director for Sunshine Health, one of Florida’s largest medical benefit administrators. Sunshine Health is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a diversified, multi-national healthcare enterprise focused on under-insured and uninsured individuals. David Lavely is president and CEO of Envolve Vision, Sunshine Health’s vision administrator. Envolve Vision has more than 30 years of experience administering eye care services to more than 7 million members nationwide.

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