Regular eye exams are important for children since their eyes can change quickly as the muscles and tissue develop. Good eyesight is critical for a child’s life and achievements since success in school is closely tied to eye health. School demands intense visual involvement, including reading, writing, using computers, and smartboard work. Physical activities and sports require strong vision too. If their eyes aren’t up to the task, a child may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, have problems in school, or have difficulty playing their favorite games which will affect their overall quality of life.
There are some obvious signs that a child might have a vision problem…
Complaints of blurry vision
There are some less obvious signs too…
Short attention span
Losing interest in reading or games
Losing his/her place while reading
Skipping words while reading
Having trouble at school
When To Perform A Pediatric Eye Exam?
If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, now it the time for a full eye exam.
According to research, a child should have an initial screening between 6 and 12 months of age. After that, routine eye health and vision screenings throughout childhood should be performed in order to help detect any abnormalities as the eyes develop
For a newborn, an optometrist should examine the baby’s eyes and perform a test called the “red reflex test” which is a basic indicator that the eyes are normal. In the case that the baby is premature or at high risk for medical problems for other reasons, has signs of abnormalities, or has a family history of serious vision disorders in childhood, the optometrist should perform a comprehensive exam.
Eye health examination should be done for infants between six months and the first birthday. This examination includes tests of pupil responses to evaluate whether the pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light, a fixate and follow test to determine whether the baby can fixate on an object such as a light and follow it as it moves, and a preferential looking test which uses cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes and thus vision capabilities can be assessed. Infants should be able to perform this task well by the time they are 3 months old.
For a Preschooler, between the ages of 3 and 3½, a child’s visual acuity and eye alignment should be assessed. If the child is diagnosed with misaligned eyes (strabismus), "lazy eye” (amblyopia), refractive errors (astigmatism, myopia, hyperopia), or any other focusing problems, it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible to ensure successful vision correction and life-long benefits.
At School age or upon entering school, the child’s eyes should be screened for visual acuity and alignment. In this age group, nearsightedness (myopia) is the most common refractive error and can be corrected with eyeglasses. There are special treatments that can slow the progression of nearsightedness! This exciting treatment means your child’s eyes won’t continue to get worse so quickly.
It is so important for kids to have regular eye exams. The earlier a vision problem is found and treated, the better off your child will be! 😊