The list of responsibilities you have as a parent is virtually never-ending because making sure your child has everything they need and a fair portion of what they want is in every parent’s job description.
It is easy to become so focused on the daily grind that essential things, such as your children’s eye test, can be overlooked. Unfortunately, without regular examinations, your child runs the risk of undiagnosed eye diseases.
Here are nine reasons to make a children’s eye exam a priority:
Some vision problems can be corrected with early intervention.
Children may not tell parents about vision problems because they believe how they see is the same way everyone sees.
There is a history of vision problems on one or both sides of the family.
Corrected vision problems often relieve pain, such as headaches. Straining to see can cause significant eye pain and headaches.
When your child can see better, they are safer. Excellent vision will ensure your child’s ability to see what is around them, whether on their bike, walking, or driving a car. You may have experienced poor or blurred vision when you tried to drive without your glasses or contact lenses.
The eye tests at your child’s school are not proper eye examinations. They are quick screenings to see if your child is developing a problem. These screenings are helpful, but they are not in-depth enough to spot significant medical issues with your child’s eyes.
Eyesight changes can happen quickly and without warning. A child who has excellent vision may suddenly complain about difficulties they had not experienced in the past. This is why staying up to date with your child’s yearly eye exams is vital.
Eye examinations can sometimes detect other health problems. For example, a comprehensive exam can point out other health issues that could go undetected.
Children’s eye exams can help correct clumsiness or hand-eye coordination by improving the vision issues that are causing the lack of coordination.
During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor can examine your child’s retina and assess the condition of the vessels found around the retina. The state of these blood vessels can tell you a lot about the overall health condition of the blood vessels around the rest of your child’s body. Significant health issues include diabetes, heart problems, autoimmune disorders, or if the body is fighting a virus.
While a comprehensive eye exam cannot diagnose these problems, it raises concern about a potential problem and may help your child get an appointment with a doctor sooner.
A children’s eye exam will also confirm or rule out several other issues which are common in people of all ages, such as:
Refractive Errors: This eye condition includes myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (when the cornea or lens has a different shape than usual). Refractive errors occur when the light fails to focus correctly on the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This condition causes blurred vision.
Amblyopia (lazy eye): This eye condition occurs when vision in one eye is reduced because of a communication error between the brain and the eye. The brain will rely more on the stronger eye, while vision in the weaker eye will become worse over time. Eventually, the weaker eye can deteriorate to the point of functional blindness. With early detection and treatment, a child can have their vision restored to normal or near-normal levels.
Strabismus (crossed eyes): This eye condition can affect one or both eyes. When a child has strabismus, their eyes do not focus on the same object at the same time. As a result, their eyes have trouble maintaining the correct position and will cross. Not only does this carry a social stigma, but if left untreated, the eyes could become damaged to the point of blindness.
Convergence Insufficiency: This eye condition impacts how the eyes work together when viewing objects close up. Convergence insufficiency often causes blurry or double vision when a person looks at things close up, including a book, computer screen, or digital device.
Making sure your child is up to date with their eye examination is vital to their optical health as well as their overall well-being. If you would like to schedule a children’s eye test or if you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us. Our team members are always happy to help you get the information you need.
Stephanie is an owner optometrist, researcher and educator. She has held clinical, teaching and research roles in Australia and overseas, and has extensive training and clinical experience. Stephanie is also the head optometrist at E Eye Place, on top of this, she is also currently a PhD candidate at UNSW. Dr Stephanie Yeo Optometrist BOptom (HC1) GradCertOcTher DOPT (Merit) CO Ophthalmic Medicines Prescriber.