Children's Eye Health
My older sister was in 2nd grade and complained she couldn't see because the teachers weren't pressing hard enough on the chalkboard. After getting my first pair of glasses in middle school, I remember being able to see individual leaves on the trees instead of the normal green “blobs” I was used to seeing. These are the cases I now encounter daily as an optometrist and a big reason why I pursued this career. A child's eye health and optimal vision is crucial.
Early eye examinations are important to ensure a child has normal healthy vision so that they may learn and play at their best. Periodic eye exams are an essential part of preventative health care. The American Optometric Association recommends infants receive their first comprehensive eye examination between ages 6-12 months. Through the InfantSEE program, this initial comprehensive eye assessment is provided as a no-cost public service by a participating optometrist. The AOA then recommends an eye exam at age 3 and again prior to starting school at age 5. Depending on the child's ocular health and risk factors, the optometrist will recommend exams every 1-2 years thereafter. While vision screenings at school are performed with the best of intentions, these standard tests often miss common eye problems.
If we diagnose and treat a vision problem early, the potential negative impact on one's quality of life can be reduced. Much of our learning is done visually, which is even more important for our growing children. Our eyes must work effectively together to achieve a clear, single image by moving and changing focus. Optimal visual skills include best distance and near vision, binocular coordination, accurate eye movements and focusing ability, peripheral vision, and hand-eye coordination. A comprehensive eye health examination can detect amblyopia, convergence insufficiency or binocular dysfunction, strabismus, color deficiency, ocular disease or numerous other ocular conditions.
The examples of my sister and me needing distance correction as young kids are typical; however, many children do not have any complaints because they don't know how “normal” eyes see and work. This is why early and routine comprehensive eye examinations are essential to allow children to achieve their best in academics, arts, and athletics so they may be better prepared for their futures.
Pamela Lynch, OD
West Shore Eye Care