Why early childhood eye exams are important
Did you know that one out of four children in Alberta starts grade one with an undiagnosed vision or eye health issue? Unfortunately, many types of eye conditions don’t have obvious symptoms and can only be diagnosed by an optometrist. Your child may not even realize they have an eye issue. Often kids with vision problems think their way of seeing is normal.
Why are pediatric eye exams important?
Up to the age of 12, 80% of everything children learn is absorbed visually. This means that if your child can’t see properly, their development may become stunted.
Not only can vision problems interfere with learning and sports, but some eye conditions can cause lasting damage if not treated.
Regular eye exams starting at a young age are important for diagnosing eye health issues, many of which can be treated successfully if caught early.
When does my child need an eye exam?
Many optometrists, including our own, suggest that children have their first eye exam when they’re six months old. Their eye health, muscle movement, alignment and focus will all be examined. The optometrist will also check for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
Your child’s eyes will continue to change and develop as they grow, so it’s recommended that they have a second eye exam around the age of three, another one before starting kindergarten and then an exam every year until the age of 18.
What can be detected during an eye exam?
Besides vision problems, eye exams can detect a variety of other eye conditions. If left untreated, many of these conditions can potentially lead to blindness. Here’s what your child’s optometrist will look for.
- Visual acuity. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism can all be easily corrected with glasses.
- Amblyopia (lazy eye). When one eye has significantly better focusing capacity than the other. When treated before the age of six, it can often be resolved completely. If not treated, the brain will learn to ignore the image from the “bad” eye, which could cause permanent blindness.
- Strabismus (crossed eyes). When one or both eyes turn in or out. This is a muscle condition where the eyes aren’t properly aligned. Much like a lazy eye, if strabismus is left untreated, the brain will disregard the image from one eye to avoid experiencing double vision.
Visit the optometrists at Eye Health Centres
Ensure your child’s optical health is in top shape by taking them for an eye exam at least once a year. Their optometrist will help ascertain that their vision and eye health are in good standing, and that any issues or conditions detected will be treated appropriately. Call one of our clinics — either in Calgary or Regina — to make an appointment today.