Early detection and diagnosis is key to keeping your children's eyes healthy for their bright future.
When it comes to keeping your child healthy, annual eye exams should be just as important as visits to the physician. Good vision plays a vital role in your child’s development and is necessary for succeeding academically as well as in other activities.
Seeing clearly is important for young children because it helps them understand and interpret what’s going on around them, especially in learning environments such as school and sports. Good vision means your child is able to demonstrate visual acuity, focus, perception and eye teaming – required for reading skills. If your child is struggling in class, there may be a chance that it’s related to vision problems.
The American Optometric Association relates learning-related vision problems with the inability to distinguish between letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’, not being able to picture what they are reading and the lack of recollection about what was just read. The National Parent Teacher Association estimates that 10 million children under 10 years old have vision problems.
When should you take your child for an eye exam? Usually, babies can only focus on objects that are up close. However, at the six month mark, their vision actually sharpens. This is an ideal time to take your child to a specialist to see if your child’s eyes are developing appropriately, or if additional attention is needed. It’s recommended to also schedule appointments between the 3- to 4-year-old mark and annually after that.
How do you tell if your children need an eye exam?
- They sit too close to the television. If your child is having trouble seeing, they may be compensating for it by getting up close or holding items near their face.
- They squint often. A lack of basic vision skills can lead to eye strain and can cause your child’s eyes to be especially sensitive to light.
- Their coordination is off. When playing sports or engaging in physical activities, you might notice that they are having trouble catching or throwing things.
- They have trouble paying attention. Vision problems can play a role in attention deficit problems because of lowered interests in activities they can’t quite see or understand.
Your child might be nervous about going to their first eye exam, but they can actually be quite enjoyable. During a typical exam, your eye doctor will shine a light into your child’s eyes to check the pupils and alignment. The doctor will also check the back of the eye for abnormalities. Afterwards s/he may give your child a series of tests using pictures, shapes and patterns and can usually measure their eyesight in just a few minutes. If your child has vision in the range of 20/20, this means your child’s eyesight is in the standard range and s/he can see how a “normal person” sees.
If you want to learn more about eye exams and if your child is a candidate for glasses, contact your nearest health provider. They will be able to refer you to a specialist in your area.