YOUR CHILD’S EYE HEALTH
As parents, we are used to worrying about our children’s health. Even before they are born we are taking steps to ensure they get the best care we can possibly give them. From the first days in the hospital to the subsequent appointments with their pediatrician, to the first visit to the dentist, our days are filled with learning all we can about keeping our child well.
When it comes to our child’s vision sometimes the next step seems a little unclear. Your pediatrician performs basic eye exams at well-visits and most of us are familiar with eye tests that are performed either right before or during kindergarten. Of course, these are great tests to have and can be very helpful in determining a basic evaluation of your child’s vision. However, these exams are just that: basic.
Basic eye examinations usually test for Acuity-Distance vision and 20/20 vision. Did you know that there are eleven other abilities and skills to test for? The most important ability is arguably Acuity-Near Vision, which is for reading distance, a key component in the early years for learning to read and learning in the classroom.
It is recommended that your child’s first comprehensive eye exam take place at 6 months of age. That may seem early. However, most vision issues can be resolved or are much more quickly and successfully resolved if they are caught early.
Eye issues in children can impede learning, or they can be mistaken for another learning disability like A.D.D. A child may simply have difficulty reading, for example, because of a vision issue. If they grow restless or bored in class teachers may assume it is genuine disinterest or a learning disorder when it is only the child struggling to see their lessons. The AOA (AMERICAN OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION) estimates that 25% of all kindergarteners have some kind of vision issue.
WHEN TO SCHEDULE EXAMS
The first comprehensive eye exam should take place around 6 months of age. Another exam should be scheduled for when your child turns 3, and then just before they enter the first grade – or right around 6 years of age. The AOA recommends that once children are school age that they have scheduled visits to the optometrist every two years.
THE 12 SKILLS AND ABILITIES
Acuity – Distance Vision: visual acuity (sharpness, clearness) at 20 feet distance. Acuity – Near Vision: visual acuity for short distance (specifically, reading distance). Focusing Skills: the ability of the eyes to maintain clear vision at varying distances. Eye Tracking and Fixation Skills: the ability of the eyes to look at and accurately follow an object; this includes the ability to move the eyes across a sheet of paper while reading, etc. Binocular Vision or Fusion: the ability to use both eyes together at the same time. Stereopsis: binocular (two-eyed) depth perception. Convergence and Eye Teaming Skills: the ability of the eyes to aim, move and work as a coordinated team. Color Vision: the ability to differentiate colors. Reversal Frequency: confusing letters or words (b, d; p, q: saw, was; etc.) Visual Memory: the ability to store and retrieve visual information. Visual Form Discrimination: the ability to determine if two shapes, colors, sizes, positions, or distances are the same or different. Visual-Motor Integration: the ability to combine visual input with other sensory input (hand and body movements, balance, hearing, etc.); the ability to transform images from a vertical to a horizontal plane (such as from the blackboard to the desk surface).
To promote eye health in babies and children, we participate in the InfantSEE program. InfantSEE®, a public health program, managed by Optometry Cares® – the AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service. Please call us today to schedule your InfantSEE appointment.
For Further Information About Your Child’s Eye Health Please Visit These Sites: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/childrens-vision?sso=y https://www.infantsee.org https://www.allaboutvision.com/eye-exam/children.html
For more information on your child’s eye health or to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, call Redding’s family-focused optometrist, Kristi Davis, O.D. At 530.222.7271.