Most parents believe that if their child had an eye or vision problem they would know. However, this is far from the truth for a number of reasons. First of all, children often can’t express or don’t realize the difficulty they are having, and often vision problems will be overlooked by the associated behavioral issues that come as a result of frustration. Further, many eye or vision problems don’t show symptoms until they have progressed significantly which often makes the condition harder to treat.
Conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed-eyes) can be corrected more effectively when they are diagnosed and treated early at a young age. Further, the sooner you diagnose and correct a vision problem, the sooner your child will be able to achieve his or her potential without struggling with these difficulties. This is why it is critical to have your child’s eyes examined by an eye doctor at regular intervals. Here are some FAQ’s and answers about Children’s Vision that every parent should know:
Q: At what ages should children have their eyes examined?
A: The official recommendations for the American and Canadian Optometric Associations are that infants should have their first eye exams at 6 months. Following that, children with no known vision issues should have another exam at 3 years and then prior to entering kindergarten. Children who do not require vision correction or therapy should have a vision checkup every year or two years and those who use vision correction should have an annual eye exam. Of course if your child is experiencing difficulty in school or after school activities that may be due to a vision problem schedule an eye exam immediately.
Q: My child passed a vision screening by the nurse at school. Does he still need an eye exam?
A: Yes. School vision screenings are not as thorough as a comprehensive eye exam at our Albuquerque eye clinic. They’re fine for checking your child’s visual acuity, but are not equipped to detect issues with essential visual skills such as visual tracking, convergence/divergence, and depth perception. They’re also unable to detect signs of childhood eye diseases that could cause difficulties with learning, as well as increase the chances of significant vision loss or blindness later in life.
A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to ensure that any visual skill deficits or eye diseases are detected and treated early, to ensure the best results for your child.
Q: My child was diagnosed with strabismus and amblyopia. Can this be treated and if so, what are the options?
A: Strabismus and amblyopia are very treatable, especially when detected early in childhood. Depending on the severity of the strabismus (crossed-eye), surgery may be required to straighten and properly align the crossed eyes. Amblyopia (lazy eye) can then be treated using eyeglasses, eye patching, or vision therapy to strengthen the weak eye and train the eyes to work together. Our pediatric optometrists at will assess your child’s individual situation and discuss treatment options with you.
Q: What is vision therapy?
A: Vision therapy is a science-based, doctor-recommended series of at-home and in-office eye exercises meant to strengthen the connection between both eyes and the brain. It’s a non-surgical way to address issues with amblyopia and strabismus, as well as deficiencies in visual skills such as eye teaming and visual tracking.
Q: My son’s nearsightedness keeps getting worse – he needs a new prescription every year. Is there a way to stop this?
A: Extensive research by eye care professionals suggests that certain myopia management techniques and treatments can slow or even stop your child’s myopia progression. This means that we may be able to help keep your child’s prescription from getting worse, or at least slow the rate at which it changes. Speak to your eye doctor about what treatments are availabe to help your child.
Q: Every morning it is a fight to get my child to wear her glasses. What can I do?
A: If your child is just starting out with their glasses, don’t give up! Sometimes, it just takes a little while for them to get used to the way the world looks through their glasses, and the feel of having the weight of glasses on their face. After a few days or weeks, they may be used to it, and you may have an easier time.
If after this time, your child still gives you trouble, come in or give us a call to speak to our optical team. It may be that something is wrong with the way your child’s frames are fitting their face, and we may be able to make adjustments that can make your child’ glasses more comfortable for them.
Q: At what age is it acceptable for a child to wear contact lenses?
A: Contact lenses can be a great convenience, especially for kids that are active or tend to break or lose their glasses. However, they are a medical device that must be treated with proper care and hygiene. If a child is not responsible enough to take care of them properly he could end up with a serious eye infection, a scratched cornea or worse. Most experts agree that the youngest age that contact lenses should be considered would be between 10-12 depending on the child’s maturity and cleanliness. Consult with your eye doctor about what would be best for your child.