Do Kids Need Eye Exams?

Eye exams are very important to kids' wellbeing. A pediatrician will examine the baby’s eye within a few months of life. If a congenital problem is detected, your child will be referred to the Children’s Eye centre where the doctor will use equipment to evaluate your child's eye. One of the instruments shines a light into your child's eye to check for the possibility of farsightedness or nearsightedness.

A baby’s visual system develops in the first six months and therefore it is important to determine if your child has any amblyopia (see below), myopia, astigmatism, strabismus or hyperopia that can block proper development. Doctors recommend that you take your child for a comprehensive eye exam between the age of 5 and 12 months. Parents should know that kids don’t have the experience or awareness needed to recognize that they could be suffering from vision problem.

The Difference between a Vision Screening and a Comprehensive Eye Examination

Vision screening involves one or two vision tests and therefore it can only detect a few vision problems. About 40% of kids with vision problems can easily pass vision screening tests. A comprehensive eye exam includes medical history, assessment of ocular refraction, eye co-ordination and eye health. This is a thorough evaluation that ensures any eye problem has been detected. This examination is done when the children are at the age of 12 months up to the age of 19.

What Is a Dilated Eye Exam?

This is an eye exam that is performed when kids are 3 years old. Their eyes are tested using pictures (truck, phone, teddy bear, house, etc.). Sometimes the doctors can use tumbling “E” games since very few kids can be tested using letters at this age.

At this point, the doctor measures your child’s visual clarity at different distances, examines your child’s eyes health, depth perception, eye muscle problems, farsightedness, astigmatism and nearsightedness. Another eye problem that a doctor will check is amblyopia which is commonly known as lazy eye. This is a condition where the sight of one eye fails to develop normally. It is not possible for parents to notice this condition. When left untreated, it might be difficult to treat it later. Amblyopia eye can cause a permanent visual defect to the child.

It is important for parents to take their kids for an eye exam before they start schooling. Vision screening is good but it’s not enough to detect major eye problems. A comprehensive child's eye exam will help to check the visual acuity, health of the eyes, eye muscle function and proper eye function. A refractive test should also be done to determine whether your child's eye needs correction.

According to a recent study, only 14% of the kids who entered school had an eye exam. This exam will help to detect and treat the vision problem before it’s too late. Parents are encouraged to schedule for their child's eye appointment before they take them to school.

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