Many parents ask themselves the question, ‘how often does my child need to see an eye doctor?’. The question may arise more as they reach school age. The most crucial issue to address at a young age is whether your child’s vision will inhibit them from doing well in school. If visual issues are present from a young age, their overall development can be affected.
Eye exams are essential to ensure that your child's eyes stay healthy and are developing properly. They are the only reliable avenue through which you can detect eye conditions early in your child. Catching these problems early means that doctors can use proper management techniques to slow or stop the progression of the condition altogether.
Eye exams will test various visual skills and abilities necessary for comfortable and efficient vision. A pediatric optometrist will check your child’s prescription, evaluate eye health, and test eye teaming, eye tracking, hand-eye coordination, and eye focusing. If the eye doctor finds any problem, they will advise you what steps are best to take next.
It is advised to bring your child in for an exam as early as six months old to screen for risk factors for developing strabismus and amblyopia. Their next eye exam should be at age 3, and then before kindergarten. As they go through school, they should have annual eye exams to monitor prescription changes, eye health, and any problems with how the eyes work together, track, or focus. As children progress through school, print gets smaller, so having good visual skills becomes an important part of being an efficient reader.
Several signs may show that a child is having issues with their vision. Sometimes, it is hard to tell if a child has a problem, but below are some things to watch out for that may indicate the presence of an issue:
Consistently red eyes
Delayed motor response
Little to no eye contact
Constant rubbing of the eyes
Tilting their head to see clearly
Using only one eye and covering the other eye to see
Losing place while reading
Difficulty copying from the board
Several eye conditions affect young kids as they grow up and can hinder their development.
People usually refer to amblyopia as a lazy eye condition. It happens when one eye fails to develop optimal vision due to a high prescription or an eye turn (strabismus). If left untreated, amblyopia can cause vision loss in the affected eye, and problems with depth perception and eye coordination. Recent research has shown that a vision therapy-based approach to treating amblyopia is the most effective treatment option. Vision therapy for amblyopia involves exercises to improve the amblyopic eye’s skills and processing, anti-suppression therapy to get the amblyopic eye working when both eyes are open, and binocular therapy to improve depth perception and eye coordination.
Strabismus is a condition where your eyes begin to point in different directions. An inward eye turn is called esotropia, an outward eye turn is called exotropia. Strabismus may cause print to double when reading, or difficulty making spatial judgements when playing. It can affect the ability of the child to focus well in class and outside. It may also lead to poor self esteem if a child feels they look different from their peers. If you notice this happening with your children, ensure you swiftly take them to the eye doctor. Strabismus can be treated by a program of optometric vision therapy, or prism glasses.
Ptosis refers to a condition where one eyelid droops and blocks your child's eyesight. It is easy to notice if one eyelid is drooping. When you notice it, take your child to a pediatric optometrist for evaluation.
This is by far the most prevalent of the conditions found in children. Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, affects many young children. It happens when the ocular structure begins to bulge and lengthen. It causes you to only see near objects clearly while distant objects are blurry. Higher levels of myopia are associated with developing eye disease later in life, so controlling the progression of myopia is important. Our office now offers myopia management services and axial length testing.
For more information on how often your child should get an eye exam, contact Vision Rehabilitation Associates at our office in Northfield, Illinois. Call (847) 716-2340 to book an appointment today.