Children’s eye health can change pretty quickly, which is why it’s so important that they receive regular eye exams.
There are many children who do not receive regular eye exams that have undetected vision problems. Those vision problems can lead to learning problems, attention problems, and even behavioral problems. It isn’t unusual for children to be misdiagnosed as having something like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), when in actuality, their problems are caused by the fact that they can’t see clearly and it creates frustrations within them.
The American Optometric Association recommends that babies should have their first eye exam at the age of six months, another eye exam at the age of three, and then another one before they start kindergarten. After that, children should receive eye exams every one to two years, or as recommended by their eye doctor.
Scheduling an Eye Exam
When it’s time for your child to see an eye doctor, the time of the day that you schedule the exam can make a big difference in how well the exam goes. You want to schedule it for a time when your child is alert and in a good mood. It’s probably unrealistic to think that the exam will go successfully if your child is tired, cranky, and won’t sit still to have their eyes looked at.
Some children may also be apprehensive about having their eyes examined, so it’s important to reassure them that there’s nothing to worry about. You should also try to explain to them what the eye doctor is going to do, such as shining a light in their eyes, so they know what to expect. This will help to take the worry away so the exam will go much more smoothly.
You also want to look into and make sure that the eye doctor you schedule the exam with is used to working with children of your child’s age. Some eye doctors don’t see a whole lot of children so their approach with how they do exams on kids may not be the best and most comforting for your child. Eye doctors who are experienced with examining children’s eyes will know how to work with youngsters, ease their fears and make them comfortable.
Comprehensive Eye Exam
When your child goes in for their eye exam, there are specific things that need to be evaluated in order to ensure they are not suffering from any vision issues. It’s important that your child’s comprehensive eye exam evaluates each of the areas listed below, otherwise a vision problem could go undetected:
- Visual Acuity – The eye exam should test for distance vision to see how sharp and clear the patient can see at a distance of 20 feet. The exam should also test for near vision to see how clearly and sharp they can see at close distances, reading distance in particular.
- Focus – The eye examination should test to see how well your child’s eyes can maintain sharp and clear vision at different distances. A child whose eyes have difficulty focusing can become frustrated when they’re trying to read or do other similar activities.
- Eye Muscle Strength – Looking carefully at the eye muscles can determine whether or not they are aligning properly. Poor alignment of the muscles can lead to problems such as amblyopia, or lazy eye, or it can cause their depth perception to decrease. If the eye muscles are not working together, this can cause issues when your child is trying to read and their eyes may get tired easier.
- Retinoscopy and Refraction – The eye doctor will use a light known as a retinoscope to determine the child’s prescription without the need to ask the child any questions regarding how well they can see, which is what is known as refraction. Sometimes eye doctors will use refraction and retinoscopy to determine your child’s eyeglass prescription.
- Dilation – The eye doctor should dilate your child’s eyes to get a more in depth look at the overall health of the eyes.
If it is determined that your child needs eyeglasses, you and your child will then be able to pick out the frames that you want. If a more serious eye condition is detected, your eye doctor will explain what is going on with your child’s eyesight and then will speak with you about necessary treatment options.
Keeping Your Child’s Eyes Healthy
It’s important to start proper eye nutrition at as early an age as possible in an effort to prevent serious eye problems later on in life. Making sure your child eats their fruits and vegetables is extremely important for good eye health.
Everyone knows it can be near impossible to get kids to eat fruit and veggies – veggies especially, but there are many ways you can get creative with making sure they’re getting the amount they need. For instance, you can make smoothies with their favorite fruits and toss in a handful of spinach. The smoothie will turn green, but they won’t taste the spinach at all and they’ll be getting a good source of eye healthy nutrients from the spinach and fruits you included in the drink.
You can also try daily vitamin supplements like the Ocu-Plus Formula to help strengthen eyes and vision.