I love this field! I do! There’s always something to learn: New products, techniques or patient issues. There’s always more to know. That’s why I’m excited to join the Pro to Pro team with their dedication to continuous education. Our expert contributing editors, our peers, continue to share the latest technical information and best practices.

My name is Linda Conlin, and with 40 years of experience as a licensed optician in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, I’ve been fortunate to write and lecture at regional and national meetings. As the new Managing Editor of Pro to Pro, I’d like to begin with Back-to-School Month.

In addition to new backpacks and sneakers, we can expect to see more children getting eye exams and new glasses and contact lenses. Make sure your office and staff is ready to welcome these young patients. Some kid-friendly furniture and entertainment in addition to fun and stylish eyewear sets the stage. Add staff who know how to make children feel comfortable and enjoy the experience, and you have a great production.

We know that 80 percent of learning is visual, but according to Prevent Blindness America, 9 percent of children ages 5 to 17 years have myopia, 13 percent have hyperopia, and 15 to 28 percent have astigmatism. Considering astigmatism separately, that’s 35 to 50 percent of children in that age group with a vision problem. If the vision problems are undetected or uncorrected, those children will struggle with learning. As eyecare professionals, we can help by talking to our patients who are parents. We can remind them that all great back-to-school plans include an eye exam. To find out the requirements for vision screening or eye exams for school age children in your state, visit preventblindness.org/school-requirements-childrens-vision.

Along with back to school comes back to sports and concerns for vision safety. Prevent Blindness America estimates that more than 40,000 American children and adults suffer eye injuries every year while participating in sports, and that’s only what is reported. While our younger patients are getting new eyewear, discuss eye safety with their parents. Sport eyewear has become more stylish with more exciting colors, team logos and other options for personalization. Of course they have polycarbonate or Trivex lenses, but don’t forget about the benefits of AR, sport-specific tints, polarized lenses and photochromics. We’re the experts, and we must provide our patients with the latest information about vision safety as well as good vision.

Linda Conlin