Save Your Vision Month: Give Children Early Vision Examinations
by Dr. Shannon Franklin, OD
Early detection of vision impairment and disorders in children can prevent and help reduce the threat of developmental delays and serious vision impairments later in life. The American Optometric Association recommends that your child have a comprehensive eye exam at age 6 months, at age three, and just before kindergarten, followed by routine exams every two years. Research has shown that parents tend to feel confident that their child’s pediatrician will spot potential eye and vision problems, but most are not able to conduct extensive assessments.
Visual acuity is being able to see small letters on a chart. Vision is the ability for the eyes to work together as a team. Both are important to learning and development and both need to be evaluated.
At 6 months of age, the average child has reached a number of critical developmental milestones, making this an appropriate age for their first eye and vision examination.
A program called InfantSEE® developed by the AOA in partnership with the Vision Care Institute of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. enables participating optometrists to offer a one-time comprehensive eye exam to infants ages 6-12 months at no cost, regardless of income level. To learn more about this program visit www.infantsee.org.
If your child is past the 6-month mark, it isn’t too late to start him on the right path. Ten percent of pre-school children are affected by vision problems; 1 in 30 children will be affected by amblyopia (lazy eye); 1 in 25 will develop strabismus (crossed eyes); and 1 in 33 will demonstrate nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
Watch for The Following Signs in Your Children
- Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Tilting their head
- Frequently rubbing their eyes
- Short attention span for the child’s age
- Turning of an eye in or out
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty with eye-hand-body
- coordination when playing ball or bike riding
- Avoiding coloring, puzzles and other detailed activities
For School-Age Children
- Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
- Short attention span
- Avoiding reading and other close activities
- Frequent headaches
- Covering one eye
- Tilting the head to one side
- Holding reading materials close to the face
- An eye turning in or out
- Seeing double
- Losing their place when reading
- Difficulty remembering what he or she read