INFANTS (birth-24 months) A child’s first eye exam should be between 6-12 months. Dr. Lee will check for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, amblyopia (“lazy eye”), eye alignment, proper eye movement, how the eyes react to light, and signs of potential eye problems. Vision problems can cause developmental delays, so if your child’s eyes aren’t on the right track, we need to find out and take care of it right away.
PRESCHOOL (2-5 years) Your child’s second exam should occur around age 3. Toddlers are constantly developing, and 80% of learning is done through vision. It is important to make sure everything is developing well at this stage to prepare your child for school. Children do not know what they are expected to see, so they may not complain about vision problems.
SCHOOL AGE (6-18 years) Vision changes frequently at this age, so these children should have an eye exam every year. An estimated 25% of school-aged children have a vision problem. Often they won’t tell you simply because they think their vision is normal. When a child is struggling just to see, education and participation in sports can be very tough. Furthermore, children with special needs (eg. children with mental handicaps, cerebral palsy, hearing impairments, low birth weight, etc.) have a rate of vision problems at least two times higher than normally developed children.
SIGNS OF A VISION PROBLEM
Children don’t know when they have a vision problem. Here are some signs that they are having trouble, if they can’t tell you what is wrong:
- Eyes don’t follow toys
- Closes one eye when reading
- Tilts head when looking at something
- Needs to hold book very close while reading
- Overly sensitive to light
- Recurrent headaches
- Complaints of achy, tired eyes
- Persistent Rubbing
- Eyes don’t seem to work in unison
Catching a problem early on will reduce the negative impact on your child’s future.
MORE THAN 20/20
Some children just need some glasses to see well. However, there are other important visual skills such as focusing, tracking, and eye coordination which affect sports and learning abilities. If these skills are not developed well, your child may have difficulty seeing and concentrating, even if he/she is seeing 20/20 with or without glasses. When trying to read is difficult and stressful, this might cause avoidance of reading, lower comprehension, and short attention span. Some of these children with undetected vision problems are even mislabeled with an ADHD diagnosis. Signs of a possible vision problem, even if your child sees 20/20:
- Headaches or irritability
- Avoidance of near or distance work
- Covering or rubbing of the eyes
- Tilting of the head or unusual posture
- Using a finger to maintain place while reading
- Losing place while reading
- Omitting or confusing words when reading
- Performing below their potential
- Frustration with school work
Glasses are not always enough, and sometimes a program of vision therapy may be required to develop the visual skills necessary to succeed. Click here to learn more
VISION SCREENINGS ARE NOT ENOUGH Vision screenings are helpful for identifying certain eye problems, but they don’t catch everything, and they should not be a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam. “Passing” a screening does not mean there are no vision problems. Watch the following video to see what other vision problems may not be detected in a screening.
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