Regardless of age, it is important that everyone gets the health of their eyes and their vision checked on a regular basis. As a parent or guardian of a child, you will be responsible for making sure that their eyes are in good health and that they have clear vision. Of course, the best way to make this happen is taking them for their regular routine eye exams.
It comes as a real surprise to many people when they learn that at birth, their child’s vision is not perfect. During the first few years of their life their visual skills and visual acuity will continue to develop, including things such as.
Tracking moving objects/people
Perception of depth
Improving hand/eye coordination
Focussing both eyes on something simultaneously
Changing focus quickly between targets at varying distances
Unfortunately, for some children, the development of these skills will not be as strong and straightforward. Poor visual skills can have a detrimental effect on their ability to learn at school and in their day-to-day lives, so it is very important that any issues are detected as early as possible to enable your eye doctor to begin treatment.
The most common issues seen in children are refractive eye errors, which occur when light entering the eye is not focused directly on to the retina. This is usually caused by the clear, domed lens at the front of the eye - the cornea - not refracting the light properly, causing blurred vision. There are 3 principle refractive eye areas, which most people will be familiar with: myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. These issues can all be corrected with prescription lenses for glasses, or contact lenses if they are suitable for the individual child.
As we know, when a child has refractive eye errors, it can affect their ability to engage and to learn at school meaning ultimately that they may not get the best start in their academic life and could miss out on meeting their full potential. It has also been found that children who develop myopia at an early age are sadly more likely to experience more serious eye health conditions in the future, such as retinal detachment or cataracts.
Another key area where good vision is important is maintaining the safety of children. We often take many of the things that we use our visual skills for for granted. However, simple tasks like reading traffic lights to cross the road or reading signs warning of potential danger are dependent on the quality of our vision. The development of good visual skills is incredibly valuable for a child as the better they can see, the more safely they can perceive risk and make simple decisions - such as gauging the speed of an approaching vehicle before crossing the street.
Experts widely agree that a child’s first eye examination should be undertaken just prior to them starting at kindergarten, and following on from that, every two years. If they are found to need prescription lenses or there are any eye health concerns, the frequency of these visits may be adjusted but of course your eye doctor will keep you fully informed. It is always advisable to follow their instructions as they have the best interests of your child in mind.
For more information about eye exams, call Dry Eye Center of Alabama and Family Eye Care at (205) 490-2322 to reach our office in Homewood, Alabama.