Q When should parents bring their children in for an eye exam?

A Dr. Simmons: Fifty-seven percent of parents have not had their kids eyes examined before the children enter kindergarten. We recommend that parents bring their kids in when they’re between 6 months and a year old. We test eye coordination, alignment, nearsightedness and farsightedness, depth perception, color vision and more. If everything is normal, we recommend that parents bring their kids back at 3 years old, then at 5, and then every year until age 18.

Q Is the purpose of the annual visit to catch vision-related learning problems?

A Dr. Nance: Exactly. children’s eyes change quickly. A lot of kids diagnosed with ADHD actually have convergence insufficiency, where the eyes don’t work together properly. It makes it hard for them to read, so they stop reading and wind up with the ADHD diagnosis.
Dr. Simmons: Also, autism usually isn’t diagnosed until age 2, but sometimes we can pick up early signs of it with an infant eye exam.

Q What do you tell parents about kids and computers?

A Dr. Simmons: You want your child doing educational things on the computer. But its important to take frequent breaks. Parents should have their kids follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at some-thing 20 feet away for 20 seconds. That gives your eye muscles a break. That’s good advice for adults, too.

Q How did you decide to become optometrists?

A Dr. Nance: I’ve always wanted to be an optometrist. In college, Jody decided she wanted to be one, too. But since were identical twins, I went through a phase when I didn’t want to do the same thing as my sister.
Dr. Simmons: I shadowed several doctors, and I loved shadowing the optometrist. So I went to the University of Alabama at Birmingham for optometry school, and Jenny went to Indiana University. It was good for us to be apart for a few years. Now we work wonderfully together.