Did you know that learning is up to 80% visual? If your child has a vision problem, it can affect how they learn and how they perform in school. Kids aren’t always able to tell you they have a vision problem, so regular comprehensive eye health and vision exams are vital to detect and treat any vision problems they may have.
The doctors at Coral Gables Eye Care and Clarin Eye Care in Palmetto Bay provide expert, personalized eye health and vision care for every member of the family, including children.
How Often Should Children Get Eye Exams?
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that babies should have their first eye exam at six months old to ensure their eyes and visual skills are developing on track. After that, the recommendation is for children to get an eye exam at three years old, then once more before they enter kindergarten.
School-aged children should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years if no vision correction is needed. If your child has been prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses, then they should be examined on an annual basis or as recommended by the doctor.
The eye exam methods our doctors use depend on the age of the child, but in all cases, the comprehensive eye exam for a child will include learning about their history, testing their vision, determining whether eyeglasses are needed, testing the alignment of their eyes, conducting an eye health evaluation, and if needed, prescribing eyeglasses.
Why Are Eye Exams Important for Children?
It’s important for children to have their eyes examined to ensure they are healthy and that they don’t have any vision problems which may interfere with their performance in school. Eye exams for children assess whether they have the necessary visual skills which are essential for learning:
- Excellent vision for near, up-close work, such as reading, and for distance.
- Comfortable and correct “eye teaming”, which means the eyes work well together and can focus on the same place in space.
- Excellent ability to switch the focus from an object up close to an object in the distance.
- Accurate eye movement skills, such as the ability to read a line of text.
What is the Difference between a Vision Screening and a Comprehensive Eye Exam for Children?
A vision screening provided by a school or pediatrician is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam. Vision screenings do not diagnose eye or vision problems. They are designed to assess whether a child needs further testing.
What are Common Vision Problems in Children?
While not an exhaustive list, here are some of the most common vision problems in children.
Also known as “lazy eye”, amblyopia occurs when vision in one eye or in both eyes doesn’t develop properly, and it’s a relatively common vision problem in children. It’s important to diagnose and treat amblyopia early to avoid more serious issues with vision later. Amblyopia can be caused by strabismus, ptosis (droopy eyelid), uncorrected refractive errors, or even a cataract.
The cornea and the lens, which is the front part of the eye, should have a rounded shape curved equally in all directions. Astigmatism occurs when the cornea and the lens have a distorted shape, causing vision both up-close and in the distance to be blurry. If a child is diagnosed with astigmatism, they may also have other refractive errors such as myopia and hyperopia.
Our two eyes should be able to focus on a single object at near, but with convergence insufficiency, the eyes struggle to focus. Children with undiagnosed convergence insufficiency may avoid reading or and other up-close activities.
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is a visual condition in which a person can see objects in the distance, such as a blackboard, but have trouble seeing objects up close. Children who are farsighted may experience headaches or tend to squint when trying to see something in the distance.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a visual condition in which a person can see objects up close, but have problems seeing objects in the distance, such as a blackboard. Myopia occurs when the cornea, the clear window on the front part of the eye, is too steeply curved. If a child receives a diagnosis of myopia and it continues to progress, or worsen, this can put them at greater risk to develop eye problems later in life, such as cataract, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.
Some of our doctors provide office-based vision therapy for children with strabismus, amblyopia, focusing problems, and visual rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury at Miami Vision Therapy.
What are the Warning Signs of Vision Problems in Children?
Children may not be able to tell you they have vision problems, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs which may indicate they have vision problems. Some early indicators of vision problems in children include the following behaviors:
- Frequent rubbing or blinking of the eyes
- Short attention span or daydreaming
- Poor reading skills
- Avoiding up close work
- Frequent headaches
- Covering one eye
- Tilting the head when reading
- Squinting one or both eyes
- Placing head close to the book or the desk when reading or writing
- Poor eye-hand coordination
Schedule a Pediatric Eye Exam
Remember, children can’t always tell you that they have a vision problem, and vision screenings do not provide the same level of care as a comprehensive eye exam. To ensure your child has healthy eyes and vision, schedule a pediatric eye exam at our Coral Gables or Palmetto location today.