We all define success differently. However you define it, learning is a big part of your child’s life and success depends on having good vision.
Regular eye exams for children are critical, both for identifying issues and for the treatment of existing conditions. Your child’s eyes need to be checked by an optometrist every year through their 18th birthday. Eye exams for children usually begin between the ages of 1 and 3, but can start as early as 6 months.
Vision testing starting at an early age will insure that your child has the visual skills he or she needs to do well in school.
Poor Vision and Learning
Parents may pick up on clues that their child isn’t seeing well, but more often than not, they don’t and kids won’t complain because they assume that how they see the world is how everyone sees it. Symptoms of vision problems are easy to miss or they’re often attributed to some other cause.
If your child’s teacher complains that your child is inattentive, behind in reading skills, unable to complete assignments independently, avoiding seat work and/or just generally underperforming, the problem may be related to their eyesight.
It stands to reason that, if a child is unable to see print or the writing on a blackboard, they can easily become frustrated and stop trying.
Preparing Your Child for an Eye Exam
Before you take your child to the optometrist, tell him or her that they will be looking at some pictures or letters and the doctor will shine some light in their eyes. Reassure them that it will not hurt and that you will stay with them the whole time. It might also help to tell them that an eye doctor doesn’t give needles. That should help to make the appointment a little less intimidating.
On Appointment Day
Make sure you bring your child’s health card to the appointment. Bring a favourite toy, a snack or another distraction to keep your child occupied in the waiting room.
The eye doctor will need to know if your child has or displays any of the following:
• A history of prematurity
• Delayed motor development
• Frequent eye rubbing
• Excessive blinking
• Failure to maintain eye contact
• Not able to maintain a fixed gaze while looking at things
• Poor eye tracking skills
An optometrist won’t just check your child’s vision. He or she will also look at the overall health of the eyes and muscle control as it relates to vision. These two things often have no symptoms but, if left untreated, can have harmful effects on your child’s vision.
Early detection of eye problems is essential because it makes them easier to treat. Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated as early as possible when the child’s eyesight is still developing.