ABC´s of Children´s Vision

When should children have their eyes examined?

img_opt_14If you have any suspicions that your child has a vision problem don’t wait. Parents, grandparents and teachers have amazing instincts and are the number one detectors of potential problems. In our office we try to make eye exams friendly and fun. Undetected problems can cause otherwise avoidable handicaps to a child’s development. We want our kids to succeed to their potential. Trust those instincts and schedule their eye exam soon.

THE ABC’S OF VISUAL SYMPTOMS: One or more of the following symptoms could be a red flag that a problem exists.

A: Appearance Of The Eyes

  • Red Eyes
  • Watery Eyes
  • Frequent bumps or styes
  • Eyes that cross in or turn out at any time
  • Eyes that jerk or move constantly

B: Behaviors Indicating Possible Vision Problem

  • Doesn’t recognize people or objects from a distance
  • Kids that seem smart in everything except school
  • Clumsiness and poor eye-hand coordination
  • Squints or frowns when trying to see
  • Tilts head when looking at the board, TV or book
  • Reads, writes or draws too close to the page
  • Loses place while reading
  • Confuses words or letters when reading
  • Poor comprehension for written material
  • Sits abnormally close to the TV
  • Covers one eye frequently
  • Avoids doing sustained visual activities like reading
  • Performs below potential
  • Short attention span for activities requiring reading or writing, yet has a normal attention span for other activities
  • Good at close work but avoids active or outdoor play

C: Complaints Associated With Vision Problems

  • Headaches
  • Eyes hurt
  • Burning, itching or tearing
  • Blurring or double vision

Any family history of “lazy eye” or “thick glasses” or eye disease is also an indication of the need for a complete eye exam.

The very latest point at which children should have their eyes examined is before they enter preschool or kindergarten. As a parent, it amazed me that proof of a dental exam was required before starting kindergarten, yet an eye exam was not requested. More than 80% of what a child learns in school is processed through the visual system. Although I agree with the importance of good dental hygiene, at what point do children read with their teeth?An undiagnosed vision problem can cause a child to struggle with handicaps in learning, coordination and development. For healthy children with no symptoms and no history of vision problems exams are recommended every other year starting with a well baby evaluation at 6 months of age. For children who are symptomatic and/or who already have glasses an annual exam is a must.

Is the screening by the pediatrician the same as an Optometrist?

Although the vision screening done by a pediatrician may catch significant vision problems and major diseases such as cataracts and tumors of the eye, it is not practical for the primary MD to determine if a child needs glasses. I absolutely adore our pediatrician. After he completed the pediatricians’ version of a vision screening on my children we looked at each other and shared a laugh. We both recognized how many more aspects of the visual system an Optometric exam tests.

Hints and Tips for developing a healthy visual system.

Good nutrition is critical. Along with significant growth of the body, the eye and visual pathways are at the most critical stages of growing and developing. My rules for healthy eyes always include a well balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid excessive soda drinks. What kids eat is important because their growing bodies need quality building materials to grow healthy and strong.
In this day and age it should go without saying not to expose kids to second hand smoke.

A balanced lifestyle is important for the proper development of not only gross motor skills, overall health, but also of depth perception and hand-eye coordination. A good rule of thumb is moderation and balance when it comes to video games and television. For every hour a child does a static activity, they should be outside actively moving and playing for at least the same amount of time.

img_contact_lenses_07Here at Phillips Eye Center, we’ll treat you like one of the family. Consider us a friendly resource.