As a parent, it’s normal to wonder whether your little one has a problem with their vision, or when the first trip to the eye doctor should be made.
Eye examinations for schoolchildren are far important than many may realize. Estimates predict that five to ten percent of pre-schoolers and a whopping quarter of school-aged children have some form of vision problems. Catching child's vision problem early is crucial because some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss if they are not treated quickly.
When should you test your child’s eyes?
The American Optometric Association states that infants should have their first cursory eye examination at around six months old. Subsequently, children should have more eye exams beginning at or around three years, and also before they begin kindergarten or the first grade, so between five and six, and then every two years subsequently in order to spot vision problems in a timely manner.
If your child does need glasses, your child’s optometrist will determine how frequently they need to come in for a visit. Early eye exams also are important because children need the basic visual skills for learning, and without these, they are bound to be behind.
Eye Testing for Pre-School Children
Pre-school aged children can have their eyes thoroughly tested even if they do not know their ABCs yet or are too small or too shy to answer the doctor's questions. Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:
LEA symbols: These are much like the standard letter examination, but young children are shown special symbols in these tests include an common household items, shapes, and other things easy for children of this age to identify if they recognize it.
Retinoscopy: This is an exam where a light is shined into the eye for the purposes of making observation on how it reflects from the retina of the child’s eye (the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye). This test helps eye doctors decide on eyeglass prescriptions for your child.
Random dot stereopsis: This sort of examination commonly uses dot patterns to see how well your child’s eyes are working in tandem. This is one of the most critical tests, as it can also help determine if there are muscular or other problems other than vision in the eye.
Eye and vision problems that may affect children
Eye doctors do not just look for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism (which indicates refractive errors). Your child’s eye doctor will also test your child's eyes for signs of the following visual problems that are commonly found in young children:
Amblyopia: This is also known as a "lazy eye,". This problem causes decreased visual acuity in one or both eyes in spite of the absence of any eye health problem or damage. Amblyopia has a few possible causes, including strabismus (which we will talk about in our next bullet point) as well as significant variance in the refractive errors of both of your child’s eyes. Treatment options for amblyopia could comprise of wearing a patch over the dominant eye in order to strengthen your child’s weaker eye.
Strabismus: Another way of saying a misalignment between both eyes which is often caused by congenital defects in the strength of muscles or their placement. It could also be caused by the muscles attached to the eye which also control eye positioning and movement of the eye. This can be quite serious. Strabismus can cause a lazy eye in the misaligned eye. Surgery may be needed in order to correct this problem, depending upon the severity of the condition.
Focusing problems: When children have problems focusing their eyes, which is also called accommodation problems, the children could have issues switching focus from points of distance, or accommodative infacility, or struggle unnecessarily with maintaining the right amount of focus necessary for reading. The prognosis for these problems is actually quite good; These problems usually can be treated with the proper course of vision therapy.
Eye teaming problems. Many eye teaming (binocularity) problems are more subtle than strabismus. Deficiencies in eye teaming skills can cause problems with depth perception and coordination.
Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of what your child learns in school is presented to them in some sort of visual manner. That means that if your child has a serious vision problem, they simply are not learning or able to retain the information given to them, leaving them behind. By detecting vision problems can put them at a risk of falling behind in school.