45 athletes needed vision correction.
(Press Release) WASHINGTON, DC – Early detection and treatment of eye and vision issues helps ensure healthy vision for life which is why Dr. Keith Smithson, O.D. – chair, American Optometric Association (AOA) Sports & Performance Vision Committee (SPVC) pediatric and sports vision specialist, Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry and Washington Nationals eye doctor – along with colleagues Robert Sparrenberger, O.D., and Hylton Mayer, MD, recently provided eyecare and education to youths in grades 3 through 7 participating in the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.
Every child participating in the event received a no-cost comprehensive, in-person eye exam with Smithson or one of his colleagues, as well a pair of sunglasses that are specifically designed to protect young, developing eyes. A significant number of participating athletes, 45, were identified as needing vision correction and received no-cost prescription glasses.
“Kids are using their eyes to learn and develop every moment of the day, which is why this is such a great opportunity to provide care and education to these young athletes,” said Smithson. “Maximizing vision and proper eye protection is critical to the safety and performance of athletes, as well as minimizing the risk of concussions.”
Earlier this year, AOA released its newly revised Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline: Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination for pediatric eye health. The guideline, based on a three-year systematic review of the latest research, put comprehensive eye exams on par with other annual health examinations for children. The evidence now supports that children ages 6 to 18 years should receive a comprehensive eye exam before entering the first grade and annually thereafter.
Nationals’ third basemen and board member of the Youth Baseball Academy, Anthony Rendon, helped organize the vision event for the Academy’s scholar-athletes.
Smithson points to the life-changing outcomes of eye exams for children, citing stories of children who’d never received an eye exam until today.
“Last year, my most memorable patient was a fifth-grade girl who never had an eye exam. She was uncorrected at 20/200 in each eye. After the exam, I witnessed her seeing clearly for the first time,” he said. “We want to educate the public to the importance of prevention, early detection and treatment through comprehensive eye exams every year for all children.”
The AOA Sports and Performance Vision Committee works continuously to provide care and maximize eye and vision protection and performance for athletes. Specifically, SPVC focuses on advocating for:
- The importance of comprehensive eye exams for youth sports. Most states require a sports physical, yet the vision portion of that physical is simple static acuity. Without a comprehensive eye exam for these kids, eye and vision problems could be missed that could hinder sports performance and potentially leave them more susceptible to injury.
- Understanding what constitutes sport-safe eyewear and the importance of US protection in youth sports and its long-term impact on eye health.
- Value of optometry in the management of post-concussion syndrome. Many allied health professionals including athletic trainers, neurologists, neuropsychologists and team ophthalmologists are actively seeking optometrists to manage the multiple visual effects that can be present post-concussion.
For more information, visit www.aoa.org/SPV.
Dr. Keith Smithson helps a patient participating in the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.