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HEALTH WATCH

Body Watch

August 22, 1995

Early Eye Exams Important for Kids

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Children don't always know that they're having trouble seeing, so it's up to you to watch for signs of poor vision. For example, you might catch your child squinting or turning his or her head in an unusual manner to watch television. Also, the child might be disinterested in looking at distant objects or in reading books.

"Children with a vision problem will not complain," says Dr. Susan H. Day, a pediatric ophthalmologist in San Francisco. "Very early detection of treatable eye disease often leads to more effective and less expensive treatment and may enhance your child's ability to learn."

Children should have an eye exam by age 5, according to the Academy of Ophthalmology. Their most common eye problems are:

* Strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes causing them to point in different directions. (Treatment involves eyeglasses or a patch over the strong eye; sometimes surgery is necessary.)

* Amblyopia ("lazy eye") in which vision does not develop normally during childhood. (Treatment includes glasses and a patch over the strong eye.)

* Decreased vision, eye strain and amblyopia caused by refractive errors. (Farsighted children tend to cross their eyes.)

Don't Put Away the First Aid Kit Yet

Summer is on the wane, but there's still plenty of time for bug bites and the usual summertime ouchies. Typical summer injuries are cuts, scratches and skin irritants such as insect bites and sunburn, says Fred Weissman, USC associate professor of clinical pharmacy.

On that next outing, tote along a basic 10-item first aid kit packed with sunscreen, bandages and gauze, insect repellent, tape, scissors, alcohol wipes, hydrogen peroxide, burn relief medication, acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and topical antibiotics (such as Neosporin cream).

Briefly . . .

EarthSave Los Angeles is holding an afternoon tea by the sea on Sunday with Dr. Arnold Fox (author of "The Beverly Hills Medical Diet"), who will cover "Nutritional Supplements: Powerful Tools to Protect Yourself." 2 p.m. $8, members; $10, non-members. Gregorian Hotel, 1415 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica. (213) 964-4455 . . . Also Sunday, at 10:15 a.m., Lorenzo Lamas, of the TV series "Renegade," will lead a pack of motorcyclists from 24508 Lyons Ave. at Interstate 5 in Newhall to the Queen Mary in Long Beach to raise money for the World Children's Transplant Fund. $35 a rider. Check-in time is 8 to 10 a.m. Call WCTF at (818) 905-9283 for details.

* This health roundup appears on Tuesdays. Items to be considered should be mailed 3 1/2 weeks before the event to Candace A. Wedlan, Healthwatch, Life & Style, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053. Fax: (213) 237-4888.

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