Ask INVISION: May 2016

I’d like to get some coverage in my local newspaper for my children’s eyecare business. Any suggestions on how to reach out?

To get the attention of a journalist, you have to think like a journalist. Start with facts and figures that make you say “wow.” The American Optometric Association has done a lot of research on children’s vision issues, and those statistics are exactly the kind of stuff that would make a reporter’s ears prick up. For instance, one issue you could bring up is how parents seriously underestimate the amount of screen time their children log each day. Four in 10 kids say they use electronic devices five or more hours each day, but only 10 percent of parents estimate that level of device usage. Another telling stat: 80 percent of kids surveyed say they’ve had signs of digital eyestrain after using their devices. While you’re communicating, be sure to tell any reporter you speak with that the Affordable Care Act means all children are eligible for an annual eye exam.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 edition of INVISION.

Too many parents think that vision is all about being able to read this or that line of an eye chart. How can I make them understand that their children’s vision is so much more than that?

Of course, acuity is important to a child’s school performance, says Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford of Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Tampa, FL. But there are five other visual skills that parents of school-age children need to be aware of and on watch for any potential problems. These are eye tracking (the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another), eye focusing (the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision at different distances), eye teaming (the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving along a printed page, as well as judging distances), eye-hand coordination (the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands), and visual perception (the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas that are understood and remembered). Since kids are unlikely to report these problems themselves, push hard on how important it is for parents to look for warning signs in any of these areas. Make sure they know that if they do sense a problem, they should schedule an eye exam immediately. You can even add some case studies to your website of children who you’ve worked with to solve vision issues in each of these areas.

Do you have any quick advice I can share with parents of toddlers preparing to bring them in for their first eye exam?

Here’s some eye exam wisdom for parents from the Wyoming Optometric Association, aimed at those with children between the ages of 2 and 5. “1.) Make an appointment early in the day. (This timing avoids any almost-naptime doldrums and moodiness.) Allow about one hour. 2.) Talk about the examination in advance and encourage your child’s questions. 3.) Explain the examination in your child’s terms, comparing the E chart to a puzzle and the instruments to tiny flashlights and a kaleidoscope.”

I want to do something fun for kids visiting my business, but am definitely not gonna go the old shopkeeper route of handing out lollipops. (Most parents would kill me if I tried!) So how can I reward children in a way that’s interesting and fun?

We love the way that Indian Creek Family Eye Care of Hood River, OR handles this dilemma. The socially-conscious business doesn’t hand out candy or cheap little toys, but instead lets its pediatric patients make a choice between three local charities. To do so, children place a special wooden token in the jar of their choice and pick a sticker as a reward for doing something good for others. Ultimately, the jar that fills with wooden tokens first receives the donation from Indian Creek. It’s a creative way to do good with style and personality.