Your optometrist can help your child succeed in school; learn more about the Eye See…Eye Learn Program here.
CHILDRENS VISION: FACTS & MYTHS
How your optometrist can help your child succeed in school
October is Eye Health Month!
Healthy eyes and vision are an important part of a child’s development. Regular eye exams with your optometrist will identify how well your child can see along with monitoring your child’s visual development, functioning and any signs of eye disease. This will allow for early detection of a problem and possibly eliminating or decreasing the risk of long-term complications.
As an infant, vision development is an exciting time for both you and your baby. At birth, your baby is reacting to bright lights and by three months you will notice his/her eyes glancing from one object to another. By twelve months of age, he/she is learning how to synchronize their vision with their body movements. During the preschool years, your child is enhancing the visual skills which have already been developed and integrating their motor skills.Schoolchildren’s vision is crucial to their success in learning and also, this is the time when recreational activities begin.
It is recommended by the Ontario Association of Optometrists that all children have an eye exam at six months of age, at three years of age, and then annually or as advised by your optometrist. A comprehensive eye exam will go beyond identifying the basics of visual acuity by assessing overall eye and vision health.
In 2009, the Ontario Association of Optometrists launched the Eye See…Eye Learn program. In the school year ending in 2009, only 25% of children between the ages of 5 and 9 had an eye exam by an optometrist. The purpose of this program is to have each child reaching their full learning potential without eye health and vision problems. The Eye See…Eye Learn program provides junior kindergarten children with comprehensive eye exams and any participating child who needs a pair will receive them at no cost. The glasses are covered by full manufacturers’ warranties.
- Halton Region
- Peel Region
- Windsor- Essex
To find a participating optometrist, visit www.EyeSeeEyeLearn.ca
There are many eye conditions which can affect children. Common eye problems can include amblyopia, often referred to as a ‘lazy eye’, strabismus or ‘eye turn’, and refractive error. Ambylopia, or ‘lazy eye’, is poor vision in an eye that can be commonly caused by crossed eyes or a difference in refractive error between the two eyes, amongst other causes. Amblyopia is best treated in the preschool years and if not treated can cause irreversible visual loss and limit career opportunities later in life. Strabismus, or an ‘eye turn’, is a misalignment of the eye(s) which could in some cases lead to the development of amblyopia. The eye(s) can turn in, out, down, or up. Refractive error includes nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Be alert for signs and symptoms that your child may be struggling with his/her vision. A few examples would include:
- excessive squinting of the eyes
- excessive rubbing of the eyes
- holding things closer than normal
- closes or covers an eye
- poor reading comprehension
- skips lines while reading
Please take a moment to watch this You Tube video testimonial from an Oakville parent Jennifer Hartman, who recently found out her 6 year old daughter is legally blind:
There are many common myths about children’s vision. Here are a few dispelled:
1 Myth: My child hasn’t complained about not seeing well so I know they have no problems. Fact: Children very rarely complain of visual problems. They may not notice that they have vision which is worse in one eye than the other. Also, they may assume the vision which they have is normal.
2 Myth: If my child wears their glasses all the time, their vision will get worse.
Fact: Wearing glasses which have been prescribed by an eye doctor does not make near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or astigmatism worse. Your child will prefer the clear image which he or she sees. Encourage your child to wear their glasses as they have been prescribed by their eye doctor. Limiting the use of their glasses will prevent good vision from developing.
3 Myth Sitting too close to the TV will damage my child’s eyes. Fact: If your child is sitting too close to the TV this may be because he or she is not seeing well. Also, with computer use and handheld video games being very common with children, it is advisable to take a ‘visual break’. This involves relaxing the eyes after 20-30min of near use by looking in the distance.
4 Myth: Only adults can wear contact lenses. Fact: Children of all ages can wear contact lenses if the proper procedures are adhered to. With younger children, the parent should insert, remove, and clean the contact lens. For children who are mature and responsible, they may be able to handle the care of the contact lenses on their own.Every child deserves to have all the vision skills needed to successfully learn. By having children learn good eye health care at an early age, we hope they carry these habits with them throughout their lives.
5 Myth: A child needs to know the alphabet before they can have an eye exam. Fact: Often parents think a child needs to know the alphabet for an eye exam because they had to read an eye chart for their own examination. For young patients, optometrists use a chart that has common shapes such as stars and birthday cakes for the child to identify. Even if the child is unresponsive perhaps due to shyness, the doctor can often make a diagnosis using a variety of other tests.
Dr. Radhika Chawla, Optometrist
Ontario Association of Optometrists
Toll free: 800-540-3837 FREE
The information contained in this article is intended to be educational and is not intended in any way as a substitute for medical advice and care.
Be sure to check out previous articles generously written for us by the doctors of the OAO, including: