Regular eye exams are just as important for children as they are for adults, particularly when it comes to their learning and development. Eye doctors recommend that all children undergo a comprehensive pediatric eye exam every 12 months. The frequency of these appointments is greater than those recommended for adults, and this reflects the speed with which children’s eyes and vision can change.
Many people are surprised to discover that as much as 80% of what children learn during their early years and at school is presented to them visually – in books, video clips, on the board, or through activities, experiments, and interactions with their peers. Unsurprisingly, this means that if they aren’t able to see clearly, they will be missing out on vital learning opportunities and may fall behind other children their age in both their learning and development. Without prompt identification and treatment, these problems could lead to them falling further and further behind, impacting their academic performance and making them unable to fulfill their potential. Regular pediatric eye exams will help to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
There are many different eye diseases and conditions that can affect children, with some being more common than others. Fortunately, all of these can be successfully detected when your child attends regular comprehensive pediatric eye exams. Some of the vision problems that could be prevented include:
- Amblyopia. Also called ‘lazy eye’, this condition occurs when one or both eyes are unable to build a strong link to the brain, although it most often only affects one eye. Amblyopia is fairly common, estimated to affect around 1 in 50 children. However, without treatment, it can cause lifelong vision problems. Treatment for amblyopia is most effective if it is undertaken before they reach 7 years of age.
- Strabismus. This condition occurs when the eye muscles don’t work well together, and this can cause the eyes to look in opposite directions. It can severely affect your child’s vision. Treatment includes glasses, patches, or surgery, depending on the extent of the misalignment.
- Myopia. Also known as nearsightedness, children with myopia can see nearby objects clearly, while those further away are blurred. Myopia usually develops in childhood and gets worse without treatment. People with high myopia are at greater risk of developing eye problems including glaucoma and macular degeneration in the future. Treatment usually involves wearing glasses to correct myopia.
Vision problems that are affecting learning are often misdiagnosed as more general learning difficulties, including dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. This is because some of the behaviors or skills exhibited by these children are also signs of these conditions. For example, children with visual processing problems may confuse their left with their right and this can cause them to jumble up letters and words when reading them – something which is characteristic of dyslexia. Similarly, a child who has vision problems may develop difficult behaviors to mask them, and these can be confused with the same characteristics seen in children with ADD. By taking your child for regular pediatric eye exams, you can ensure that their vision problems are addressed so that they can access their education and rule out any potential misdiagnosis.
If you notice any of the following, your child may have an undetected vision problem and would benefit from an appointment with your eye doctor:
- They are skipping words or lines while reading or writing.
- They have below-average reading performance.
- They reverse numbers or letters or confuse those which are similar to each other.
- They have particularly poor handwriting skills.
- They have attention problems.
- They have trouble with clumsiness and coordination.
- They are complaining of things like blurred vision, sensitivity to light, or other abnormalities.
If you would like more information about pediatric eye exams and the importance, call Pack Optical in Forth Worth, TX at 817-527-9900 today!