The eye health needs of your baby, child or teenager differ from the eye health needs of adults. Problems like lazy eye can be treated in babies and young children but become irreversible once a child is older.
Here are a few things every parent should know about their child’s vision.
The Importance of Regular Eye Exams
According to The Ontario Association of Optometrists, children should have an eye examination at the age of six months, at age 2 and then every 12-24 months as recommended by your eye doctor.
A school vision screening, if it is still done at your child’s school, doesn’t replace a comprehensive eye exam. Vision screenings are only meant to identify children who may be at risk and as many as 43 percent of children with vision problems may be able to pass a basic vision screening.
There are many factors that could contribute to eye problems and only your optometrist is trained to identify these issues. After your child’s eye examination, you should know the essentials about your child’s eyesight. These include:
- If your child has good depth perception
- If their color vision is good
- If their eyes are healthy
- If your child’s eyes are working together.
Learning and Eyesight
Good eyesight is crucial in order to develop skills such as reading, copying, hand-eye coordination and social skills. Indeed, more than 80 percent of learning is done through the eyes. Several different visual skills must work together so children can see and understand.
One in six children has a vision problem significant enough to weaken their ability to learn. When children find it difficult to focus on their school work, they may be misdiagnosed as having a learning or behavioural disability when, in reality, poor vision could be to blame.
Eye health problems and conditions such as a turned or lazy eye can be detected in their early stages with regular eye exams. Conditions such as these can be treated successfully, if an optometrist diagnoses them early on in a child’s life.
Some signs that your child may have a vision-related problem include the following:
- performing below her potential
- frequent headaches or irritability
- covering or rubbing his eyes
- avoidance of near or distance work
- tilting of the head or unusual posture
- using a finger to maintain her place while reading
- losing his place while reading
- omitting or confusing words when reading
Young children often assume that everyone sees things the way they do and don’t have the necessary experience to know what normal vision is. There are often no signs that a child has a problem seeing, making regular eye exams very important.