We’ve spoken before about how important it is for school-aged children to get their eyes checked so that they can flourish in the educational system. What we don’t talk a lot about, however, is how paying attention to your children’s eyes early on in life is setting them up for a lifetime of success.
Many people feel that children don’t need eye exams especially if they haven’t started reading yet. Many parents swear by this for reasons we have trouble understanding.
We use our eyes every day to complete various activities, not just reading. Children, possibly more than anyone, are highly visual. They need their eyes to discover the new world around them, to play games, to make friends, not just for educational purposes. A child who does not learn social skills is not one that will be set up for a good life.
Studies have shown the elderly adults with low or poor vision are more likely to withdraw from friends and family and isolate themselves. There have been limited studies on how poor vision affects children, but one can only assume the want to withdraw is even more present in children who can’t understand their vision.
When a child is unable to participate in activities such as sports, board games, arts and crafts because of their poor vision, they are missing out on crucial building blocks. Many believe education is about learning how to read, write and solve a math equation, but there’s so much more to it.
Learning to make friends through common interests and team building activities is important. It’s something people working in corporate offices even do, because they understand the value of a group of people who work well together.
Children are doing the same when they play sports and other group activities. They are learning how to build friendships as well as working relationships. Group school projects teach them how to effectively work on one project together.
However, this development is severely hindered when a child has vision problems that are not being tended to. They’ll feel shy and cast aside because they won’t be able to partake in activities the way they should.
Take soccer for example. If a child can’t see the ball, they won’t play well. If they don’t play well, then we can all guess who won’t be getting picked first in gym class.
It doesn’t matter if the withdrawal is forced on a child by not being included by other children in activities or because the child feels they are not good at anything like the others. The result is the same: a lonely child who struggles to make connections with their peers.
This is why taking your child to the eye doctor once a year until they’re 18 is extremely important. Without early detection of vision conditions, you are not setting your child up for a healthy and sociable life.
Future Vision Conditions
Many uncorrected vision conditions that develop early in a child’s life can lead to a lifetime of vision impairments. Children grow out of a lot of things, but vision disorders are not one of them. Not unless they are helped along by a doctor and treatments.
Amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye, is a very common early childhood vision disorder. It is also completely treatable. The catch is that it must be treated by the age of seven. After that it will probably be too late. The eyes will have settled into the lazy eye and there is no reversing it.
Adults with lazy eye struggle every day. There is no cure for adult amblyopia. It is strictly a condition that has to be cured during childhood, otherwise there’s no chance of reversing it. There are treatments available to patients with adult lazy eye which include vision therapy and eye exercises. However, neither of these promise a cure.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is also a condition that can develop in childhood and cement itself in your child’s eyes if not treated immediately.
Some children are born with myopia, in which case they may benefit from a specialized vision therapy program. Some children, however, develop myopia because they participate in too many “near” activities. These types of activities include reading, writing, drawing, watching TV, playing video games, etc.
When children don’t have the opportunity to play outside and work their distance vision, the body adapts to their daily activities. Children’s eyes are much more malleable than those of an adult. So when they do too much close distance playing, they will lose their ability to see at a distance.
Now, you may not be able to tell from the way your child is behaving, but an eye doctor will notice the difference right away. Again, this is why it is crucial to have you child’s eye checked regularly.
Early detection is the only way to nip these problems in the bud. When you take care of your children’s eyes early, you are setting them up for a healthier and more successful life.
Childhood Eye Screenings
Eye screenings, often offered at the beginning of every school year, are not enough. Sure they can be great to detect refractive errors, but that’s the extent of it. To find potentially dangerous and vision threatening conditions, your child needs to see an eye doctor.
The rule of thumb is to take your child to the eye doctor every year starting at the age of 3, until they’re 18. The reason for this is because the eyes don’t stop changing until adulthood.
Yes, certain conditions may solidify during childhood, but on the other hand, healthy eyes may develop conditions late in their teenage years as well.
Don’t think that just because your child isn’t reading yet that they don’t need to have their eyes checked. We use our eyes for a multitude of things. Get them checked and get yours checked too!