Frequency of Eye Examinations for Children with a Low-Risk Profile
More Frequent Eye Examinations are Recommended if your Child:
Eye Health and the Importance of Eye Exams
At birth, your baby can see light and dark in blurred patterns. During their first four months, vision will extend from arm’s length to across the room. By six months, your baby will acquire eye movement control and begin to develop hand-eye coordination skills.
During the first six months, an infant’s eyes can appear slightly crossed or out of alignment. If they continue to appear crossed or misaligned after six months, contact your optometrist right away. Your child may have strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes. This condition can be treated with:
• Contact lenses
• Vision therapy
• In some cases, surgery
If the misaligned eye is left untreated, it will be unable to function normally. This may result in the development of amblyopia, commonly referred to as ‘lazy eye’. This condition refers to weak vision or vision loss in one eye due to uncorrected prescription or a misaligned eye. If detected and treated at an early age, it will often resolve completely. Untreated amblyopia can lead to significant vision loss in the affected eye.
Visual abilities play a key role in early development. Optometrists recommend infants have their first eye exam at six months and then continue on an annual basis. An optometrist can complete an eye exam even if your child doesn’t know their ABC’s or is not yet speaking in full sentences. They can use shapes, pictures and other child-friendly ways to evaluate vision and eye health.
It is important for a child to develop good hand-eye coordination and depth perception. There are activities that can help improve these essential visual skills, such as playing with building blocks, puzzles, or balls of any shape and size.
Children at age two enjoy listening to and looking at storybooks. It helps them develop visualization skills and prepares them for learning to read. At this stage of their development, toddlers also like to paint, draw and colour, sort shapes and sizes, and fit or assemble pieces. These activities are all integral to their visual development.
A preschooler’s eyes are not ready for prolonged or intense concentration at short distances, but they do enjoy TV. To make TV viewing easier on the eyes, the room should be softly lit, the television placed to avoid glare, and the child should sit further away than five times the screen’s width, taking periodic breaks from staring at the screen.
Be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a visual problem:
• Red, itchy or watering eyes
• Sensitivity to light
• An eye that consistently turns in or out
• Squinting, rubbing the eyes, or excessive blinking
• A lack of concentration
• Covering or closing one eye
• Irritability or short attention span
• Holding objects too close
• Avoiding books and television
• Visible frustration or grimacing
Protect your child’s vision. If you notice any of these symptoms, book an eye exam with an optometrist. Your child should have a complete optometric eye exam at six months, at age three, and then annually thereafter to ensure optimal eye health and developmental progress.
School-age children constantly use their eyes in the classroom and at play. For school-age children, several different visual skills must work together so they can see and understand clearly. If any of these visual skills are lacking or impaired, your child will need to work harder and may develop headaches or fatigue, or having difficulty maintaining attention on tasks. The increased visual demands of schoolwork can make greater demands on a child’s visual skills, pointing out a vision problem that was not apparent before school. The child may not realize they have a vision problem – they may simply assume everyone sees the way they do.
A vision-related problem may cause some of these symptoms:
• Headaches or irritability
• Avoidance of near or distance work
• Covering or rubbing of the eyes
• Tilting of the head or unusual posture
• Using a finger to maintain place while reading
• Losing place while reading
• Omitting or confusing words when reading
• Performing below their potential
Conditions that may emerge during this stage in your child’s life include:
• Myopia or nearsightedness (blurred vision when seeing objects at a distance)
• Hyperopia or farsightedness (blurred vision when seeing objects up close)
• Astigmatism (distorted vision at all distances)
As well, disorders of binocular vision, or how the two eyes work together, are very common. These include convergence insufficiency, oculomotor dysfunction and accommodative insufficiency. Protect your child’s vision. If you notice any of these symptoms, book an eye exam with an optometrist.
Even if you have no concerns, your child should have a complete optometric eye exam at six months, again at age three, and annually throughout the school years to ensure optimal eye health and developmental progress.
Once in school, it is recommended your child have an annual eye exam, as vision can change quickly.
A school-age child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. For school-aged children, several different visual skills must work together so they can see and understand clearly.
As 80% of a child’s learning is based on vision, and one-in-four school age children has a vision problem, it is important they have a regular eye exam. Approximately 60% of children experiencing reading difficulties have an undiagnosed or untreated vision problem.
Undetected and untreated vision problems can elicit some of the same signs and symptoms that are commonly attributed to other development issues, such as ADHD, dyslexia and speech problems.
Your child may not realize they have a vision problem as they may simply assume everyone sees the way they do. And, it’s not uncommon for parents to believe they would know if their child has a vision problem, because these issues can be hard to spot particularly if there is a problem in only one of the eyes.
of a child’s learning is based on vision
1/4 school age children has a vision problem
of children experiencing reading difficulties have an undiagnosed or untreated vision problem
A school-age child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. Several different visual skills must work together so they can see and understand clearly:
- clear vision, both at a distance and up close;
- the ability to maintain focus accurately at any distance;
- good focusing flexibility to allow rapid change from one distance to another;
- binocular vision skills, including control of eye position, movement and tracking; and
- peripheral vision and eye-hand coordination.
If any of these visual skills are lacking or impaired, your child will need to work harder and may develop headaches or fatigue. The increased visual demands of schoolwork can make greater demands on a child’s visual skills, bringing to light a vision problem that was not apparent before starting school.
Your child may not realize they have a vision problem as they may simply assume everyone sees the way they do. A vision-related problem may cause any of the signs and symptoms described below:
- headaches or irritability
- avoiding near or distance work
- covering or rubbing of the eyes
- tilting the head or unusual posture
- using a finger to maintain place while reading
- vomiting or confusing small words when reading
- performing below their potential
Annual eye exams are the only way to ensure your child does not have a vision problem. Book an annual eye exam appointment online with us today.
Be alert for signs and symptoms that could indicate your child has a visual problem, including:
- red, itchy or watering eyes
- sensitivity to light
- an eye that turns in or out
- squinting, rubbing the eyes, or excessive blinking
- a lack of concentration
- covering or closing one eye
- holding objects very close to the face
- avoiding books and television
- visible frustration or grimacing
- titling the head or unusual posture
If you notice any of these symptoms, book an eye exam appointment with us.
Digital eye strain is caused by a number of factors, including staring at close-up objects for extended periods of time and exposure to blue light that is emitted by digital devices. Another cause is insufficient blinking. People typically blink 12 times a minute, but when they stare at a screen, they tend to blink only five times a minute, which means their eyes are not being lubricated properly.
Symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, eye irritation, double vision, excessive tearing or dry eyes and excessive blinking or squinting. Children may also exhibit symptoms such as irritability, poor behavior and a reduced attention span.
Research conducted by the Alberta Association of Optometrists indicates 28% of parents say their child experiences symptoms during or after using digital devices. However, digital eye strain may be difficult for parents to detect because children may not show obvious signs of discomfort.
Our doctors of optometry can recommend a customized solution, based on your child’s digital habits, to help prevent the adverse effects of digital eye strain.
We may recommend computer glasses, which can help reduce eye fatigue. A blue-light filter can be applied to prescription or non-prescription lenses to minimize the amount of blue light that reaches the eye.
Myopia is a common condition in which near objects are seen clearly, but distant objects appear blurred. It can occur at any age, and can be corrected with glasses.
Hyperopia exists when distant objects are easier to see than near objects. The extra effort required to see clearly at close range can cause blur, fatigue, muscle tension, discomfort and headaches. This can be corrected with glasses.
Astigmatism exists when either the cornea and/or the lens inside the eye is slightly irregular or cylindrical in shape, resulting in vision being blurred or distorted at all distances. This can be corrected with glasses.
Strabismus or Crossed Eyes
A crossed eye, which can turn in or out, is a muscle condition in which a child’s eyes are not properly aligned with each other.
Coordination of a child’s eyes, and their ability to work together, starts to develop in infancy. Failure of the eye muscles to work together properly can lead to strabismus (crossed eyes), which generally appears between the ages of birth and three years.
A child will not outgrow strabismus without treatment; in fact, the condition may become worse. Children may initially experience double vision because both eyes are not focusing on the same object. In an attempt to avoid double vision, the brain eventually disregards the image from one eye. In time, the ignored eye will become unable to function normally and will become largely unused, which could result in development of amblyopia (lazy eye).
Treatment for strabismus can include glasses, prisms, vision therapy, and in some cases, surgery. It can be corrected with excellent results if detected and treated early.
Amblyopia or Lazy Eye
Amblyopia is weak vision or low vision in one eye as a result of an uncorrected prescription during the early years of development, or due to strabismus.
It is largely symptom free to a young child, and is the leading cause of preventable vision loss. If detected and treated early, before the age of six, it will often resolve completely. It is vital to treat amblyopia early with vision therapy, glasses, contact lenses and/or patching, as treatment becomes very difficult later on.
If left untreated, amblyopia may lead to a permanent decrease of vision in the affected eye.
Protecting Your Child’s Vision in Sports
Sports-related eye injuries are quite common, yet the number of children who use protective eyewear (safety glasses or goggles) is extremely low.
More than 600,000 eye injuries related to sports occur each year, and approximately one-third of these injuries occur in children.
Not taking the proper safety precautions can be hazardous to a child’s health. Only 15 percent of children reported wearing eye protection “always” or “most of the time” when participating in sports, hobbies, or other activities that could cause eye injuries. Yet, the majority of the eye injuries that occur in school-aged children are sports-related.
Eye protection should be mandatory for your child when engaging in high risk sports such as these.
We provide children’s eye protection that will effectively reduce your child’s risk by 90%.
Protective eyewear is recommended not only to provide them with protection against impact injuries, but also UV rays caused by the sun.
- Track & Field