Children's vision guidelines

 

Children need early and regular eye exams

Many children do not realize they have a vision problem because they may simply presume everyone sees the way they do. That is why eye exams are so critical for youngsters.  Organizations devoted to eye health estimate that one in five children has a vision disorder.  Regular eye examinations are the best way to ensure that if your child is one of them, the problem is corrected or treated so that it does not hold back your child's personal, academic and athletic development.

 

Despite the sobering statistics on childhood vision disorders, the most troubling statistic is that 86% of children start school without ever having had a comprehensive doctor's eye examination.  This means that millions of children go to school with sub-par vision or ocular-motor disorders which will make school more challenging than it needs to be. 

In our office we have encountered many children who are in special classes because they are unable to learn effectively in a regular classroom. Psychological tests reveal that these children have normal intelligence and are otherwise psychologically healthy.  At our office, they are finally diagnosed with common vision problems like myopia or hyperopia.  Many are also diagnosed with eye movement disorders like accommodative dysfunction and convergence insufficiency, which as behavioural optometrists we routinely test for. All these disorders are treatable.

 

How much to children's eye examinations cost?

Many parents come to Dr. Randhawa because she is so great with kids! At Dr. Randhawa’s clinic there is no surcharge for a kid’s (age 0-18 years) eye exam; this means that at Dr. Randhawa’s clinic children’s eye exams are free.

Children's eye exams are clearly free at Dr. Randhawa's clinic

 

The bare minimum care for children

As a bare minimum your child’s eyes should be examined:

Remember, a child does not need to be able to read or even talk to be examined.

 

Infants

For the first six months an infant's eyes at times appear crossed or out of alignment, but this is usually normal. However, after six months of age persistent misalignment should be reported to Dr. Randhawa without delay: the child may have a condition called strabismus and treatment should begin at an early age.

Another condition that is very important to diagnose in early childhood is amblyopia (lazy eye). It can be diagnosed in infants as young as six months, and early treatment is critical for best results. Treatment becomes very difficult after age eight and if untreated it can lead to total blindness in the affected eye.

 

Preschoolers

Watch out for these symptoms that may indicate that your child has an eye health problem:

Bring your child to Dr. Randhawa immediately if you observe any of these symptoms.

 

School Aged Children

80% of learning is done with the eyes, so properly working eyes are vital for a school-aged child.

As part of a comprehensive eye health exam, Dr. Randhawa determines whether vision skills are adequately developed to handle reading, writing, the ability to see and understand clearly, sports and other visual work.

If any of these visual skills are lacking or impaired, your child will have to work harder and may develop headaches or fatigue. Don’t worry. If Dr. Randhawa finds that your child has a problem with any vision skills, she can treat the problem so that your child’s eyes are no longer a roadblock to academic success.

Caution: school screenings do not test for common vision conditions or assess eye health; they are no substitute for seeing a doctor.

The school years are visually demanding periods of rapid growth and your child’s eyes change the most during these years. Because of this, your child should have a comprehensive eye health exam before starting kindergarten, and regularly throughout the school years.

About 10 per cent of school-aged children have vision-related problems, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There is a significant link between learning difficulties and vision problems. Dr. Randhawa can help ensure the best in lifelong learning for your child.

 

Eyes and Learning

A good education depends on healthy eyes. One in six school-age children experience learning difficulties that are attributed to vision conditions. Many of these kids are smarter than average but they may work below their potential or even be labeled learning-disabled.

Dr. Randhawa has helped many of these kids through Vision Therapy or the prescription of the appropriate corrective lenses. Visual problems that impact learning are binocular vision disorders and visual information processing deficits.  In fact, the most common binocular vision disorder, convergence insufficiency, has behavioural symptoms that overlap with those of ADHD and many children thought to have ADHD have convergence insufficiency.  Research has shown that Vision therapy treatment for the latter can resolves some or all of the child's problem behaviours.

Here are some symptoms that may indicate that your child has a visual problem. If you see any of these in your child, take him or her to see Dr. Randhawa:

 

Take action today on children's eye health

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Did you know that one in five children entering school has a vision disorder? One in six children has been misdiagnosed with a learning disability when in fact they have a correctable vision problem. It is critical to identify and address vision problems early, since 80 per cent of a child’s learning is based on vision during these formative years. To address the issue of children's eye health, The BC Doctors of Optometry have launched the a-b-See™ campaign to promote healthy vision and eyes for children.  Download the parent's information brochure in the language of your choice by clicking on the links below.

Your Child’s Eye Health 
La santé des yeux de votre enfant
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Punjabi.jpg
La salud visual de su niño
Ang kalusugan ng mata ng inyong anak
Vietnamese.jpg

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Hinkley S,Schoone E, Ondersma B. Perceptions of Elementary Teachers about Vision and Learning and Vision Therapy. J Behav Optom 22;3-9, 2011.

Vision therapy and adults with convegence insufficiency

"A 2011 study published in the journal, Pediatrics, found that in addition to refractive errors that can be corrected with glasses such as myopia and astigmatism, ocular disorders like strabismus (eye-turn, cross eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye) that occur in infants, toddlers, and children may present lifelong problems for the child.

Children who become adults with these conditions must adapt and compensate for them. Moreover, vision problems that were present in childhood may continue to plague the patient into adulthood, affecting overall health, self-perception, educational attainment, job choices, and a number of other social factors.

Basically, people with these disorders find it very difficult to do things that people with healthy vision take for granted, like effortlessly understanding visual learning. The fact that 80% of classroom learning happens through our visual system means a child with lazy eye, for example, is at a significant disadvantage in school.

The study confirms what we already know about vision disorders and quality of life. A person's life can be needlessly limited if a treatable vision disorder is ignored. Amblyopia is rarely evident to parents or teachers and can only be diagnosed during an eye exam. Even the child will not know that she is not seeing as well as others. That is why all children should have an annual eye exam. In British Columbia the provincial health plan covers visits to an optometrist up to the age of 18 so there is really no reason why a child needs to have their potential needlessly limited.

In our society there is no reason for people to grow up with strabismus or amblyopia. Yet, tragically, it is still too frequent." 

Childhood vision disorders lead to adult problems,See for Life, June 13, 2011

 

Vision therapy is an effective treatment for adults with convergence insufficiency

 

How to choose a children's optometrist - See for Life

Vancouver paediatric optometrist advises parents on how to choose a children's optometrist. Kids have special eye care needs and a kid's vision specialist can meet them.

 

You need over 17 visual skills to succeed in life and school.  Seeing clearly is just one of them.  Deficiencies in the other cannot be fixed with glasses, lenses or surgery.

In order for children to learn well, they need to see well. Parents may not realize there is more to good vision than 20/20 and that there are conditions that vision screenings can miss. Two optometrists conducted a visual experiment where common visual problems known to affect learning in kids are simulated in 4 adult teachers, and their experience and reaction are discussed.