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  • Writer's pictureMark Roberts

Peek-a-Boo! I See You!

A very fun and popular game to play with infants and toddlers is Peekaboo. They will learn through repetition that you haven’t disappeared, and that you are initiating play. Start with hiding your own face for just a few seconds, and show a big, happy face when you reveal yourself. This way, your child understands that the game is fun, and will soon copy your movements, hiding their own face.

This game is way of teaching children that although they may not be able to see you, you are still there to help them and care for them. Children learn the concept of Object Permanence at around 4 months of age, but even a 1-month-old will enjoy the eye contact and parental interaction a game of Peek-A-Boo provides. Although human beings are not born with the understanding of although they cannot see something does not necessarily mean it does not exist, it is a learned trait. The ability to repeatedly see someone or some thing helps to enforce that concept.

However, when you age, the ability to see others can become more complicated if there is a problem with your vision. Even children who suffer from poor eyesight have difficulty in relating to others or their surroundings. According to the American Academy for Opthalmology, a child’s vision gets stronger each year. This improved vision is needed as the child explores the world more fully and begins school. The developing eye is learning to do many things better, such as:

  • Accommodation or eye focusing. This allows the eye to quickly change focus between distances.

  • Seeing things in 3D (three dimensions). This is known as depth perception.

  • Tracking, which helps the eyes follow a moving target.

  • Convergence, which helps both eyes focus together on an object at the same time.

As you watch your child grow, look for these vision development milestones noted by the AAO:

Your child’s vision helps them take in the world around them. But it also plays an important role in their development. If your child has an uncorrected vision problem, it may affect their ability to learn and reach their highest potential. Having a routine eye exam is important to keep their eyes healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Since many vision problems begin at an early age, you should make sure your child gets the recommended eye exams to help keep their eyes healthy. Healthy vision is important for your child’s overall development and learning ability. You can do a lot to protect your child’s developing vision. Keep reading to learn how to help your child see the bright future they have ahead:

As you age into adulthood, the American Optometric Association recommends that adults aged 19 to 40 receive an eye exam at least every two years. If you are at risk for eye problems due to a family history of eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or past vision problems, a doctor of optometry may recommend more frequent exams. In between examinations, contact your eye doctor if you notice a change in your vision. Detecting and treating problems early can help maintain good vision for the rest of your life.

The most common eye and vision problems for people in this age group are due to visual stress and eye injuries. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and protecting eyes from stress and injury, you can avoid many eye and vision problems. Good vision is important as you pursue a college degree, begin a career and raise a family. Here are some things to help maintain healthy eyes and good vision:

  • Adjust your computer and use proper lighting.

  • Take regular rest breaks from screen time.

  • Protect your eyes from bright sunlight.

  • Eat well and get regular exercise.

  • Don't smoke.

  • Protect your eyes from short wavelength lighting, such as digital, LED, and flourescent lighting.

  • Practice eye safety at home and at work, such as using safety goggles when working on projects that may be dangerous to your vision from using chemicals or power tools.

But what happens when you enter senior adulthood? As you age, it is normal to notice changes in your vision, according to the National Institute on Aging. A few common changes for older adults include:

  • Losing the ability to see up close

  • Having trouble distinguishing colors, such as blue from black

  • Needing more time to adjust to changing levels of light

These problems are often easily corrected. Glasses, contact lenses, and improved lighting may help and enable you to maintain your lifestyle and independence.

Your risk for some eye diseases and conditions increases as you grow older, and some eye changes are more serious. Keep your eyes as healthy as possible by getting regular eye exams so any problems can be spotted early. More information about vision needs for senior adults can be found here:

Yet there are huge disparities in vision coverage. Did you know that a huge number of Americans are without vision insurance? The CDC's recent study on the uninsured reports that 63% of the population are not covered by a vision plan, and that 38% do not have a primary eye doctor. Many of those are senior adults or retirees. As well, the study showed that a full 10% of people haven't had an eye exam in over 6 years. According to Versant Health's Vision Wellness Study in 2020, one in three Americans is skipping a visit to the eye doctor due to costs–and it could be doing more harm to their overall health than they realize. During COVID, those numbers went much higher.

Most people who have vision insurance subscribe via their employer's benefits offerings, and the majority of that is voluntary. Surprisingly, even with group rates, only about half of employees purchase a plan through their job. Typically, employer group plans are only available during employment. Once you leave the job, that coverage goes away, and you are left without it until you decide to buy it somewhere else, either through another company benefits plan or on your own in the private insurance market.

Your general health insurance plan usually doesn’t offer coverage when it comes to preventative eye health and vision care like when you need a new pair of glasses. As such, you are forced to buy supplemental or stand-alone vision insurance plans, pay out-of-pocket, or simply forgo obtaining vision care. This can be extremely frustrating and debilitating to your eye health.

As you move into retirement, especially when you qualify for Medicare, your options for vision plans become more important. Government Medicare programs for those 65 and over do not include routine vision exams or benefits, refraction testing or eyeglasses. It will, however, cover tests for higher risk conditions such as glaucoma and cover surgery and medical care related to the issue. However, some Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) include a vision benefit, but not all plans have that extra benefit.

People with Medicaid, primarily low-income individuals and families, have trouble getting appointments versus those who have private insurance. That’s because many practices don't accept Medicaid. Medicaid vision coverage is considered an optional benefit, which means Medicaid vision benefits may vary by state.For children under the age of 21 who are eligible for Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefits, the cost of eye exams and eyeglasses are covered by Medicaid, no matter where they live.

Medicaid typically pays for medically necessary eye care, which includes treatment for eye injuries, conditions, diseases or symptoms of illness. While routine eye exams are not included as mandatory Medicaid coverage, an eye exam that is deemed to be medically necessary is covered. Medicaid generally pays for eyeglasses and basic frames as well as contact lens when needed to correct vision problems brought on by an accident or disease.

If you have vision insurance, it typically covers the annual visit with an optometrist, and this acts as the first line of defense in finding the first signs of eye conditions. If you need specialty care, you are referred to an ophthalmologist at which point your medical insurance kicks in. Without the preventative care annual visits, many eye diseases go missed until they have progressed to a more serious state. Many people do go without these annual visits, and insurance is a big reason why. Out of pocket costs can often be prohibitive without a vision plan in place.

Affordable vision plans are available to consumers, and to employers. Contact me to learn more about how we can work together to put a vision plan in place for you, your family, or for your employees. Additionally, explore this website for more information about vision care. Don't play Peek-a-Boo with your vision. It's time to see clearly and avoid more serious health issues.

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