How old were you when you had your first eye exam? Vision problems are common among school-aged kids and can often go undetected without regularly taking children to the eye doctor. When issues with a child’s sight are left untreated, it can affect their ability to excel in and out of school.
If your little one cannot see clearly, they will not be able to learn to their full potential. Tasks like seeing what a teacher writes on a whiteboard, completing homework assignments and reading books will be harder — which can also potentially cause your child to lose confidence. Not only will it be a challenge for your kid to perform well in school, but activities like after-school sports or even playing outside in your backyard are more difficult if your child can’t see well.
Pay attention to your little one’s behaviour. If he or she exhibits the following signs, consider scheduling an eye exam for your child:
- Closing one eye to read, watch TV, or see objects more clearly
- Avoiding activities that require close vision such as reading, homework, participating in sports
- Squinting or tilting the head to see better
- Rubbing eyes often
- Sensitivity to light
- Consistently sitting too close to the TV
- Reading or looking at homework too closely
- Frequently losing his or her place while reading
- Using his or her finger to guide eyes while reading
- Excessively teary eyes
- Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
- Avoiding using the computer, because it “hurts my eyes”
- A decrease in grades at school
Common Eye Problems
There are a variety of vision conditions that can affect your child. However, regular examinations with your kid’s eye doctor will help detect these issues and create a plan to treat and monitor conditions.
- Amblyopia: Also known as “lazy eye,” this condition is reduced sight in one eye caused by an abnormal visual development early in your child’s life. The weaker, “lazy,” eye can often wander to the inner or outer corner of the eye. However, this is not necessarily the case with all children — which can make the condition easily missed without regular check-ups. Amblyopia generally develops in children up to seven-years-old and is permanent if not corrected by age eight.
- Strabismus: Commonly called “crossed-eyes,” this vision problem is a misalignment of the eyes. With early detection, this condition can be corrected through patching the properly aligned eye. In turn, this causes the misaligned eye to work. In some cases, surgery or specially designed glasses may also help the eyes align.
- Refractive Errors: Referring to when the shape of the eye doesn’t bend light properly, this condition causes images to appear blurred. There are three common types of refractive errors in school-aged children. Nearsightedness, or myopia, which is when it is difficult to see objects that are far away. Farsightedness, or hyperopia, which is when it is hard to see clearly up-close. And astigmatism, which is when the cornea has an irregular curve and causes vision to be fuzzy.
As vision problems among children often go undetected without proper eye examinations, the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) suggests your child should have their first eye exam at six months. This initial exam should be followed by regular eye check-ups annually, continued through to adulthood. The CAO also urges pediatricians to recommend that all children receive eye examinations at these intervals.
To learn more about your child’s vision health, read this article and be sure to book your kid’s next eye exam at an FYidoctors location near you.