This one is important for me, especially being a parent of two young boys.
According to the American Optometric Association, children should have an eye exam by no later than 6 months old, then again by age 3, and just before starting school.
School-age children need an exam every two to three years after that if they have no vision problems.
But if your child requires corrective lenses, schedule visits every 12 months.
Prescriptions change frequently, because vision matures along with your child.
Keep in mind that a vision screening performed by your pediatrician or the school nurse is not a complete eye exam. These screenings are designed to alert parents to the possibility of a visual problem, but they should not take the place of a visit to an eye care professional.
One question we get here a lot is when can our kids start using your Rebuild Your Vision Program so they can avoid glasses?
The Rebuild Your Vision Program can help to improve common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism in children. We recommend that your child be old enough to understand the basic ideas and principles of the Program (10 – 12 years of age).
In the meantime, if your kids aren’t old enough, this book may help you.
There are some signs you can watch for at home as well that may point to vision problems:
- If your child routinely sits too close to the television
- If they often rub their eyes while reading or watching television
- If they complain of headaches after reading
- If they complain about not being able to see the words in a book clearly
- If they hold books and papers at arms reach to read them
These are all signs that your child may be experiencing difficulty with their vision. If you notice these signs take them in for an eye exam. When children are very young they may not be able to explain to you what problems they are having seeing. If the vision problem is something they were born with then they don’t realize that it is a problem. They have never seen clearly so they don’t realize that anything is wrong.
Some Steps You Can Take to Avoid Eye Problems in the Future
Restrict the amount of time that your children spend looking at electronic screens. These include but are not limited to video games, television, computers, kindles, and cell phones. Electronic screens can be the cause of eye strain even in young eyes.
Get your children outside as much as possible. We understand that in large cities this can be difficult, but try to find after school programs or parks in the area where it is safe for them to play. School sports are also an option to consider. The YMCA often offers programs that are available to children. When people are outside they are focusing on things at a distance this is restful for your eyes.
Make sure that your children are wearing sunglasses that protect them from UV/UVB rays while outside. Because of the pollution in our atmosphere more harmful rays are reaching the surface of the planet. These rays can cause damage to the eyes if left unprotected.
Can Children Safely Do Eye Exercises to Improve Vision?
As we mentioned earlier in the post it is best if children wait until at least 10 to 12 years of age to start eye exercises. However, you can speak with a behavioral optometrist to get a second opinion on this. Some children may be able to understand the importance of the eye exercises at an earlier age.