When it comes to pediatric care, parents are usually concerned with finding the best pediatrician and following their medical advice exactly, but what about pediatric eye care? Eye care for kids is sometimes an area parents overlook because they aren’t always aware of the importance of eye health for children. Many don’t seek eye exams for their children until either the child reports having difficulty seeing at school, or the child’s grades begin to slip and parents take a closer look at why their child isn’t developing academically.
Experts recommend that children receive several eye exams before starting school. Many parents believe that the vision screenings done at school or by their pediatrician is the same as an eye exam. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are wide variations in what constitutes a vision screening. In some cases a screening is no more than seeing what line a child can read on an eye chart. In other instances a computerized device is used to determine if a child needs glasses. These devices are never 100% accurate and the accuracy varies wildly depending on the device used and the person using it. An eye exam tests the whole visual system. Your eye doctor does check to see if a child needs glasses. They also check for problems with tracking, eye alignment, and look for eye disease. Parents are strongly encouraged to have their children receive a full eye exam to make sure the child has no visual problems as they start elementary school.
Eye exams for young children are important because vision problems can negatively affect a child’s performance in school long before you are aware of the issue. The American Optometric Association reports that 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-age children are diagnosed with vision problems once they receive proper eye care. Experts are always stressing the significance of appropriate early education and full participation from youngsters in programs and learning that will become a foundation for critical skills. Children risk not being able to fully participate if they are experiencing undiagnosed visual impairments. An early eye exam and regular eye care for children can alleviate this potential problem.
Identifying eye problems early is crucial to the child’s learning and development in school. A child with poor vision may have difficulty with seeing text and comprehending words causing difficulty in reading. No parent wants their child to be frustrated with reading, especially when most vision problems are easily fixed with glasses. Unable to explain problems in a group, children may choose not to volunteer for reading in class out of embarrassment, or opt out of picking a library book because it’s hard to see. This will negatively affect academic achievement and the enjoyment that comes with reading for many children.
Other symptoms of learning-related vision problems include headaches or eyestrain, short attention span for visual tasks, difficulty identifying or reproducing shapes, poor hand-eye coordination, and developmental delay. Talk to your family eye care professional about scheduling eye care visits for your children. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s eye health, and let you know when is a good time to start doing regular check-ups.