← Go back ABC’s of Eye Care for Children
Published on Friday, August 14, 2015 by

eyecareforchild240Young children with vision problems often don’t know the world is different from the way they see it. They may never have seen clearly, and they have no way of knowing their vision is not normal. By recognizing vision problems and their symptoms early on, you can help your child get tested by an eye doctor.

How Developed is my Child’s Vision?
Babies can see at birth, but they have to learn to use their eyes. They have to learn how to focus, track objects, and use both eyes together. Babies learn eye-hand coordination and the distance of people or things.

By about one year of age, children have “adultlike” vision. They are able to judge distances, and they have good eye-hand-body coordination for grasping, holding and throwing things. During the preschool years, children develop vision skills needed for eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. They also learn how to read. Children’s vision continues to develop until they are about 8-years old. After that age, eyesight development is complete and it cannot be corrected easily.

Should Vision Problems be Corrected at an Early Age?
Yes. Some vision problems need to be corrected at an early age. Some vision problems or changes can be difficult to detect or notice without testing. Some problems can result in permanent vision damage if they are not corrected early such as:

Crossed eyes (strabismus) is a condition where the eye muscles point one or both eyes in the wrong direction.

Lazy eye (amblyopia) is a condition where the vision in one eye is weaker than the other eye. The child’s brain ignores the weak eye and uses the strong eye to see. If untreated, the child’s brain develops a clear picture in the good eye and a blurry picture in the weak eye. Vision problems often have a family history. If you know of vision problems in your family, your child’s eyes should be examined by an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) by 3-years of age or earlier, especially if you notice any concerns.

Common Vision Problems and Symptoms
Your child should see your family health care provider or eye doctor if you notice any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Squinting or rubbing the eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  • Drooping upper eyelid
  • Covering or closing one eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Lack of concentration
  • Holding objects too close
  • avoiding activities needing distance vision
  • avoiding books and television or
  • bumping into things

What Can I Expect at my Child’s Vision Test?
Your child can have a vision test or eye exam even if your child is not talking or reading. Vision screening or eye exams can be a challenging for younger children, however the eye doctor will do his/her best to make it easily for you and your child. The eye exam may check your child’s eye health; eye muscle movement; ability to see clearly; ability to tell the distance of objects; and ability to see colors.

If your child currently wears corrective lenses or glasses, make sure they have UV protection.

Hats that shade the face and eyes may provide better sun protection. Hats can be easier for children to keep on than sunglasses.

Did You Know? MSP (Medical Services Plan) provides coverage once a year for eye exams for children age 0-18 years of age.

Bio of article: For information on vision screening, contact your local public health unit. To find an optometrist in your area, contact the BC Association of Optometrists at 604-737-9907 or toll-free 1-888-393-2226, or visit www.optometrists.bc.ca

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