Kids vision is a crucial part of a child’s development. Experts say that 80 percent of what we learn in school is presented visually. Therefore, it is important for kids vision to receive routine vision screening at an early age.
Routine eye exams can identify a number of vision problems, including nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. These conditions can lead to headaches, eye strain, reading difficulties and clumsiness in sports if not addressed.
The best time for an eye exam is at six months of age, when the eyes are still developing normally. This is when an optometrist can test for any congenital defects and ensure that the eyes are functioning as they should. Once the eye has developed normally, the next exam should be at three years of age to check the eyes’ coordination and visual acuity.
Children with untreated eye problems often develop strabismus, or crossed eyes, which can cause difficulty with both close and distance vision. Also, if the eyes aren’t aligned correctly, the eye may develop amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” Both of these problems can be treated with patching, eye drops or corrective lenses.
How to Know if Your Child Needs an Eye Exam
A simple way to tell if your child needs an eye exam is to watch them closely. If they are squinting when watching TV or they have trouble reading, these are both signs that they need to see an eye doctor. Similarly, if they are unable to see 3D movies or are having a hard time reading at school, it is probably time for an exam.
When to Schedule an Eye Exam
Every child should have their first eye exam at six months of age and then once a year after that, to ensure that their eyes are developing normally. This is the most important time for screening because if anything changes, the eye doctor can treat it before it becomes serious.
In addition, it’s a good idea to make sure your child’s eye doctor knows about any health issues that might affect their sight, so the doctor can refer them for a more thorough evaluation.
Screening for eye diseases and injuries is a federally mandated program, and one that should be performed by a pediatric ophthalmologist. This professional will conduct a complete eye exam to determine whether your child has any vision problems, such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and other refractive errors that can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
A healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen are also key to good vision. Nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish provide the vitamins and minerals that are important for the eye’s development. It’s important to protect your child’s eyes from damaging UV rays by using sunglasses and a hat when outdoors.
Get your child regularly screened for vision issues and other eye problems at an early age.
Most eye problems can be corrected with patches, eye drops or corrective lenses if detected early. However, if left untreated, many of these vision problems can lead to blindness.