10 Reasons Why Eye Exams for Children are Important?

by | May 17, 2019 | Eye Care

One in four children or small infants have vision problems. The best way to deal with any of these arising problems is to take the child to a children’s ophthalmology center. At this location, a qualified doctor will identify if your child has any issues that need to be addressed.

When Should Children have an Eye Exam?
Your pediatrician will perform an eye exam during the newborn examination looking for obvious abnormalities, and the same during well-child visits. Once the child is about the age of three, it is crucial to visit a children’s optometrist and continue with annual visits afterward. These visits are frequent enough for the optometrist to perform children’s eye exams and notice anything abnormal quickly, but not so frequent as to be unnecessary.

Signs that require attention

  • Obvious lazy eye or cloudiness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Squinting or tilting head
  • Excessive tearing or rubbing eyes frequently
  • Difficulty recognizing colors, shapes, letters or numbers
  • Developmental delays
  • Having to hold a book close to read, or sitting too close to the TV
  • Avoiding outdoor activities and games, hand-eye coordination problems
  • Clumsy, frequently bumping into things
  • Having to use a finger to keep reading place, or often losing place when reading
  • Headaches, tired eyes, struggling to keep up in school

Why are children’s eye exams so important?

1.High-risk newborns and premature babies need to be examined by a pediatric ophthalmologist. It is important for them to be examined for retinopathy of prematurity and abnormalities to catch them early enough to prevent their continuation.
2.Family history of eye problems – genetic or metabolic diseases of the eye, for example:

  • Infantile cataracts (clouding of the lens), some are born with them, others get them from diabetes or other childhood diseases
  • Retinoblastoma (whiteness in the pupil), a malignant tumor of the retina that normally occurs before age three
  • Congenital glaucoma – rare, it is a blockage of the drainage canals that leads to high pressure in the frontal chamber of the eye, which will damage the optic nerve

3.Early learning – 80% of learning in the early years arrives via visual input, and undetected problems can lead to life-long learning problems.
4.Eye problems are difficult to spot in young children – your child may not be aware they have a problem, and small children cannot vocalize issues such as blurred vision.
5.Visual acuity – should be tested between age three and four (measures sharpness of vision).
6.Vision and eye-alignment – must be checked before going to school, around five years.

7.Amblyopia – also known as ‘lazy eye,’ the eye may appear normal. It is caused by crossed eyes or differences in refractive errors. If not corrected before age eight, the brain will ignore signals from the affected eye, and it can lead to permanent loss of sight in the eye.
8.Strabismus – relates to a misalignment of the eyes, turning any which way. A chronic misalignment of one eye may lead to amblyopia. Early detection and treatment with patching, specially designed glasses or surgery, can restore vision.
9.Refractive errors – the shape of the eye does not allow for normal refraction (bending) of light, making images blurred, and leading to severe eye strain and headaches, and may lead to amblyopia. Types include:

  • Myopia – poor distance vision or nearsightedness is the most common refraction error found in school-age children.
  • Hyperopia – farsightedness.
  • Astigmatism – where the cornea (front surface of the eye) has an imperfect curvature, leading to blurred vision and eye strain or headaches.

10.Undiagnosed eye problems – at any time from an early age to high school can have serious consequences for your child: They may struggle with developmental delays, understanding concepts or develop a resistance to learning or participating in group activities. It may seriously undermine their self-concept and leave them feeling clumsy and clueless.

Regular exams with a children’s optometrist or pediatric ophthalmologist near you play an essential role in your child’s overall development as it can help ensure their learning goes uninterrupted.

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