With good health, children have a better chance at success inside and outside the classroom. Summer is the ideal time to review the back-to-school health checklist from Donna O’Shea, M.D., MBA, chief medical officer of population health at UnitedHealthcare:
- Get a comprehensive eye exam. Proper vision is crucial for success at school. School-based vision screenings are valuable, but these exams can miss certain conditions. The American Optometric Association recommends children get their first comprehensive eye exam by age 1 and another before starting kindergarten. It’s also important to monitor for digital eye strain. Some tips to help avoid digital eye strain include keeping computer screens at least 30 inches away, taking breaks every 20 minutes and investing in screen protectors or computer monitors that help limit exposure to blue light.
- Get a dental cleaning. By age 5, nearly 50% of children have at least one cavity. Consider scheduling a dental exam at the start of the school year and every six months thereafter for routine cleanings and dental checks. Proper oral health includes brushing twice daily, rinsing 30 seconds with a mouthwash, flossing starting at around age 3 and limiting sugary snacks and drinks.
- Get a hearing test. Most schools provide hearing screenings, often every other year beginning in kindergarten or first grade. If a hearing issue is identified, the next step will be a referral for a comprehensive audiologic evaluation. At home, parents can help children adopt safe listening habits. Strategies include using ear protection when attending sporting events or music concerts; following the 60-60 rule, which means limiting the use of earbuds or headphones to no more than 60 minutes at no more than 60% of the player’s maximum volume; and investing in noise-cancelling earbuds or headphones.