Children’s Eye Health

Healthy eyes and vision are a critical part of kids’ development. Their eyes should be examined regularly, as many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and treated early. Be sure to make vision care and eye checks a part of your child’s routine medical care.

Eye Exams
Routine medical exams for kids’ vision include:

Newborns should be checked for general eye health by a pediatrician or family physician in the hospital nursery. High-risk newborns (including premature infants), those with a family history of eye problems, and those with obvious eye irregularities should be examined by an eye doctor.

In the first year of life, all infants should be routinely screened for eye health during checkups with their pediatrician or family doctor.

Around age 3½, kids should have eye health screenings and visual acuity tests (tests that measure sharpness of vision) with their pediatrician or family doctor.
Around age 5, kids should have their vision and eye alignment checked by their pediatrician or family doctor. Those who fail either test should be examined by an eye doctor.
After age 5, routine screenings should be done at school and the primary doctor’s office, and if symptoms such as squinting or frequent headaches occur. (Many times, a teacher will notice that a child isn’t seeing well in class.)

Kids who wear prescription glasses or contacts should have annual checkups by an eye doctor to screen for vision changes.

Spotting Eye Problems: Signs that a child may have vision problems include:

  • constant eye rubbing
  • extreme light sensitivity
  • poor focusing
  • poor visual tracking (following an object)
  • abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes (after 6 months of age)
  • chronic redness of the eyes
  • chronic tearing of the eyes
  • a white pupil instead of black

In school-age children, other signs to watch for include:

  • being unable to see objects at a distance
  • having trouble reading the blackboard
  • squinting
  • difficulty reading
  • sitting too close to the TV

Watch your child for signs of poor vision or crossed eyes. If you notice any eye problems, have your child examined right away so that the problem doesn’t become permanent. If caught early, eye conditions often can be corrected.

Common Eye Problems: Several eye conditions can affect kids. Most are detected by a vision screening using an acuity chart during the preschool years.

Amblyopia (“lazy eye”) is poor vision in an eye that may appear to be normal. Two common causes are crossed eyes and a difference in the refractive error between the two eyes. If untreated, amblyopia can cause irreversible visual loss in the affected eye. (By then, the brain’s “programming” will ignore signals from that eye.) Amblyopia is best treated as early as possible, ideally before a child is 8 years old.

Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes; they may turn in, out, up, or down. If the same eye is chronically misaligned, amblyopia may also develop in that eye. With early detection, vision can be restored by patching the properly aligned eye, which forces the misaligned one to work. Surgery or specially designed glasses also may help the eyes to align.
Refractive errors mean that the shape of the eye doesn’t refract (bend) light properly, so images appear blurred. Refractive errors also can cause amblyopia.

Nearsightedness is poor distance vision (also called myopia), which is usually treated with glasses or contacts. It is the most common refractive error in school-age children.

Farsightedness (also called hyperopia), which is usually treated with glasses or contacts.

Astigmatism is imperfect curvature of the front surface of the eye, which is usually treated with glasses if it causes blurred vision or discomfort.

Glasses and Contacts: Kids of all ages — even babies — can wear glasses and contacts. Around age 10, kids may want to get contact lenses for cosmetic reasons or if they play sports. To wear contacts, a child will need to know how to insert and remove lenses properly, take them out as required, and clean them as recommended by the doctor. Contact lens problems are almost always due to poor habits and bad hygiene.

We can help you decide what type of vision correction is best for your child.

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Saturday: 10 am – 2 pm

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