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.
The bare minimum care for children
As a bare minimum your child’s eyes should be examined:
- at six months of age,
- at three years of age,
- before entering school,
- once in school, eyes should be examined regularly to make sure eye disorders do not go undetected and their eyes are healthy, even if there is no family history of eye problems.
Remember, a child does not need to be able to read or even talk to be examined.
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.
Watch out for these symptoms that may indicate that your child has an eye health problem:
- red, itchy or watering eyes
- sensitivity to light
- an eye that consistently turns
- squinting, rubbing the eyes, or excessive blinking
- a lack of concentration
- covering or closing one eye
- irritability or short attention span
- holding objects too close
- avoiding books and television
- visible frustration or grimacing
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:
- headaches or visible irritation
- avoidance of near-distance work
- covering or rubbing of the eyes
- tilting of the head or unusual posture
- using a finger to maintain place while reading
- losing place while reading
- omitting or confusing small words when reading
- performing below their potential
Take action today on children's eye health
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.
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Convergence insufficiency symptoms - doctors need to pay attention to performance related symptoms such as reading performance, attention and ADHD-like symptoms
New research on the connection between convergence insufficiency and ADHD
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Visual function development: behaviors to watch out for in your children
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Accommodative insufficiency is a common children's eye disorder that causes reading and other problems and is treated with vision therapy
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