Good vision and eye health are crucial to a child’s learning and development. As vision continues to develop, it’s important to have your child’s eyes examined annually so that any issues can be caught early enough to treat.
It is recommended that your child’s eyes be examined by 6 months of age, at 3-4 years of age, at 5 years of age, and each subsequent year of school.
However, there is a difference between a vision screening, which can be done at your doctor’s office of at a group school screening. A comprehensive eye exam is conducted by an optometrist in the test room. A Behavioural Optometrist is experienced in children’s vision and is able to tailor the eye exam to the child’s needs and abilities. A behavioural eye exam also goes beyond being just a “sight test” but also examines the functioning of the eyes with respect to comfort and eye alignment comparing the child’s abilities to the demands of school on the visual system.
In addition to vision screenings and eye exams, it’s important for parents to keep an eye out for warning signs of vision problems that can develop in between those screenings and exams.
4 SIGNS OF VISION PROBLEMS IN KIDS
1. Physical symptoms. Some problems can be seen by simply looking at your child’s eyes. Please call your optometrist to determine the urgency of a comprehensive exam if he/she is displaying the following symptoms:
Misaligned eyes (crossed, one turned out)
Eyes that flutter or shake
Chronic tearing, redness, swelling
Squinting or rubbing of eyes
2. Changes in behavior. If your child is doing something differently than he used to do, it could be a sign that he is experiencing a vision problem. For instance, he used to sit far away from the TV and is now sitting close. He used to be able to consistently catch a ball and now he can’t. Or, she is having difficulty copying from the board to her paper, when she was able to do it before. All of these signs can be red flags that your child might need a comprehensive eye exam.
3. A suspected developmental delay. If you suspect that your child is not developing in a way that you think they should, speak with your child’s doctor about it. An eye exam would be a good place to start to rule out a vision problem. If you feel that your child is having difficulty recognizing colours or learning letters or numbers, a comprehensive eye exam is advised.
4. Eye Infection or trauma: If your child suffers a traumatic injury involving the eye, go directly to the emergency room. A red, itchy, scratchy, watery or light sensitive eyes should also not be left untreated. An optometrist is able to diagnose infection or foreign material in the eye better that your pharmacist or GP because optometrists are armed with microscopes (slitlamp) that can quickly and painlessly assess your eye under magnification.
Up to 25% of school age kids have vision problems and may need glasses, so it is important to have children’s eyes checked regularly.
All content within this column is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor, optometrist or any other health care professional. Eyetek Optometrists are not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site. Eyetek Optometrists is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own optometrist if you're in any way concerned about your health.