Vision screenings are a great tool to quickly assess a child’s vision. It can uncover vision problems such as farsightedness and nearsightedness. However, this is just two areas of vision - this method does not evaluate how the eyes work together, other eye disorders/conditions and overall ocular health. A Pediatric Eye Exam provides a comprehensive evaluation of vision and ocular health including color vision, depth perception, eye movement and alignment (including ‘lazy eye’ and strabismus), binocularity (how both eyes work today), visual acuity, and ocular health including diagnosis/management of eye diseases.
Regular eye exams are essential in ensuring the success of children in all aspects of their life. As children grow, their eyes can change significantly in as little as a year as their eye muscles develop and academic demand increases. Good eyesight is critical for various school demands including reading, writing and computer work. A child who is unable to see or track print can easily become frustrated leading to poor academic performance, avoidance, or possibly behavioral changes. Even physical activities and sports require good visual acuity and strong binocular vision to maintain athletic competitiveness including improved response times and tracking high speed objects.
According to the American Optometric Associates and American Academy of Ophthalmology, children should have their eyes examined as early as 6 months of age to ensure their eyes are developing properly. It is recommended that children be evaluated again around 3-4 years of age and thereafter on a yearly basis to track and monitor visual development and performance. Your child may need to be seen more frequently if additional treatment or concerns arise.
For parents, there are some obvious signs that their child may be experiencing difficulty with their vision. This may include squinting to see, complaining about objects being blurry, or even headaches when reading for a short period of time. However, there are more subtle signs that can easily be written off as behavioral or cognitive problems including short attention span, poor reading comprehension or overall avoidance of certain activities, and even tilting or turning one’s head to see.
Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has or displays any of the following:
Inward or outward turning of eyes/ ‘cross-eyed’ / ‘lazy eye’
Frequent eye rubbing
Delayed motor development
Falling asleep during activities with increased visual demand
Poor eye tracking skills Good vision and ocular health is essential to the proper development of a child including academic and athletic performance, but also for their social and behavioral well being. The earlier a visual problem can be found and treated, the more successful that child can be to reach their full potential.