eye health needs of children
The pediatric eye exam is essential to detect eye health and vision problems early in a child’s life to ensure they receive proper care before problems advance.
Children experience eye health and vision issues, just like adults. The pediatric eye exam is essential to detect eye health and vision problems early in a child’s life to ensure they receive proper care before problems advance.
Vision screenings at the pediatrician’s office or at school are not the same as a pediatric eye exam, and unfortunately, many children have an undiagnosed vision problem which may cause issues for them in school and in life. The qualified eye doctors at Spectrum Eye Care can thoroughly examine, diagnose, and treat the eye health needs of children.
Pediatric Eye Exam
Children should have their first eye exam at six months, then again at three years old and before they enter kindergarten.
Once a child is in school, he or she should have an eye exam at least once every two years if no vision correction is needed. If a child has been prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses, then they should be examined on an annual basis or as recommended by the optometrist.
The eye exam methods our doctors use depend on the age of the child, but in all cases, the pediatric eye exam will include learning about their history, testing their vision, determining whether eyeglasses are needed, testing the alignment of their eyes, conducting an eye health evaluation, and if needed, prescribing eyeglasses.
Our doctors and team of eye care professionals work with children to ensure they feel comfortable throughout their eye exam experience, fit them correctly with eyeglasses or contact lenses and show them how to care for them, and communicate effectively with parents.
Why are eye exams important for children?
Learning is all about vision; in fact, up to 80% of what a child learns is presented visually. It’s important for children to have their eyes examined to ensure they are healthy and that they don’t have any vision problems which may interfere with their performance in school.
Eye exams for children assess whether they have the necessary visual skills which are essential for learning:
- Excellent vision for near, up-close work and for distance.
- Comfortable and correct “eye teaming”, which means the eyes work well together and can focus on the same place in space.
- Excellent ability to switch the focus from an object up close to an object in the distance.
- Accurate eye movement skills, such as the ability to read a line of text.
What are the signs of vision problems in children?
Children are not always able to effectively communicate about their vision difficulties, so eye health problems can be difficult to detect.
If left unchecked, these problems can be progressive and can negatively impact your child’s life as they grow up. It is important for your child to see an eye doctor regularly for pediatric eye exams, particularly if you suspect he or she may be struggling with vision problems.
Signs your child should see a pediatric optometrist:
- Frequent blinking, squinting, or irregular eye movements
- Frequently turning or tilting their head
- Covering or closing one eye to see better
- Poor hand-eye coordination or motor skills
- Rubbing their eyes frequently
- Frequent headaches
- Leaning in too close to see something or read
- Learning difficulties and poor handwriting
These behaviors may indicate that your child has a vision or eye health problem. Take your child to a pediatric optometrist to determine the cause and possible treatment options. We encourage you not to wait. Delaying care may cause your child more serious or even permanent damage, depending on the condition.
Can my child wear contact lenses during sports activities?
Yes, some children do very well wearing contacts just for sports. Most children develop good habits and can wear them throughout the day.
When should my child's eyes be examined?
Baby’s first exam should be done before 12 months, and again at age 3, and yearly after that. Early readers and kids with parents who are nearsighted or have a lazy eye need close monitoring to “fix” the situation early in life.
Will sitting too close to the television set hurt my child's eyes?
TVs aren’t a real problem. The eye is stressed by extended screen time on cellphones and other handheld game screens. Like a muscle, the stress forces the child’s eyes to adapt or elongate (grow nearsighted).
Is my child likely to inherit my need for glasses?
Yes. It may be less severe if only one parent has nearsightedness (or farsightedness), but if both parents are nearsighted you are doubling down on genetics.