What is Kids’ Eye Health?
Healthy vision is critical for children to develop to their full potential. A routine eye exam allows for early detection and treatment of any vision issues. It is recommended that children receive an annual eye exam by a board-certified optometrist. Vision screenings conducted in schools and other learning institutions are generally very basic and typically only determine distance acuity. Your child should receive a comprehensive eye exam that includes testing for many vision issues that could hinder their ability to read or learn.
Does Your Child Have Eye Problems?
There are both physiological and behavioral signs that may indicate that your child has a vision problem. Monitor your child for evidence of poor vision.
If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, you should take him or her for a comprehensive eye exam.
- Discolored pupils
- Persistent eye rubbing
- Chronic eye tearing and redness
- Abnormal eye alignment
- Sensitivity to light
- Poor visual tracking and focus
- Cross eyes
- Difficulty reading
- Sitting too close to the TV
When Should a Child’s Vision Be Tested?
It is recommended to take your child for a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year, but you should do it more frequently if specific risk factors exist. The most common mistake parents and educators make is assuming that if a school vision screening test finds no issues with the child’s vision, then no vision problem exists. However, what most parents don’t know is that these tests mainly evaluate distance acuity. Just because a child has 20/20 vision, it does not mean that they do not have a vision problem.
How Do You Test Your Child’s Eye Health And Vision?
Studies have shown that 5-10 percent of preschoolers and one in four school-going children have undiagnosed vision issues. This is why it’s recommended that school-aged children have an eye exam on a yearly basis. Early detection makes it easier to treat eye problems before they become more complex eye diseases. Studies have also revealed that early treatment can be very effective in managing and treating children’s vision problems.
The process of conducting an eye exam generally involves going through family medical history before initiating a series of tests for vision and alignment to determine overall eye health. However, how the exam is administered depends on the child’s age. Children capable of reading go through the same eye tests as adults, which typically involves covering one eye and reading letters or words placed about 10 feet away. The Snellen eye chart is frequently used for this kind of test.
On the other hand, children who have not yet learned to read are tested a different way. These children may be shown LEA symbols instead of ordinary letters, which may include shapes like circles and squares or objects such as houses and an apple. A retinoscopy test may also be done by the doctor to determine the right eyeglass prescription for the child. The test typically involves the doctor shining a light into the child’s eye while observing how it reflects from the retina.
By the age of six months, infants should be in a position to see depth and color just like adults do. Doctors will often shine a light into the child’s eyes to test pupil response and evaluate eye health. Additional testing includes the infant’s capability to follow an object wherever it moves. This is referred to as the fixate and follow test. Normally, starting at the age of three months, babies can fixate on an item and should be able to follow it.