Why pediatric eye care is so important for kids
Updated: May 16
Did you know that learning is up to 80% visual? Being able to see clearly is so important for children and their development at any age. Many parents think that a brief vision screening done by a pediatrician, family doctor, or school is sufficient to know if your child is having any vision problems but this is simply not the case! There is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam done by an optometrist with the special knowledge and equipment to look into and around the eye. Most of the time, children don’t realize there’s anything wrong with their vision and they assume what they are seeing is normal. It’s recommended to book your child’s first eye exam by age two, but even six months old is not too young for a first appointment if you have any concerns about your child’s vision.
Childhood is a critical time for eye development. It’s very important to diagnose vision problems or eye issues as early as possible and start any treatment needed. When a baby is born, their vision is not fully formed. During the first year of life they will learn to focus on objects a few inches away, to track objects, and eventually learn to judge distances as they start to move and explore the world around them. Vision problems can delay a baby’s development. Babies as young as six months old can be tested for eye focusing skills, colour vision, and depth perception.
Children’s eyes and vision continue to develop well past their first year. Some of the most common vision problems in children are called refractive errors. This can include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, all resulting in blurry vision. Another common issue is called amblyopia, sometimes known as a lazy eye. If not treated early this can result in vision impairment and loss of depth perception that may be irreversible.
Even a child who can see clearly may have troubles with eye focusing, eye tracking, and eye coordination. Only a skilled optometrist will be able to look for all these possible issues.
Good vision is essential for children’s social and academic success. Children who cannot see well will have a hard time learning and focusing in class. They may even get frustrated which can lead to other behavioral issues.
Since children’s vision can change rapidly throughout their youth it’s important to keep up with regular eye appointments to ensure that their eyes are developing properly.
Regular eye exams can actually detect many other diseases in the body and, in some cases, it is the first indicator that something is wrong. A comprehensive eye exam can diagnose symptoms of diabetes (one of the most common chronic diseases among youth), high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, thyroid disorders, and even early signs of cancer. Eye exams will also check for other childhood eye diseases such as cataracts – a clouding of the eye’s lens. Early treatment is crucial as untreated cataracts can have serious effects on a child’s vision, including permanent vision loss. Regular eye exams are so important not only for eye health but overall health.
A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to tell if your child has propervision and that their eyes are developing properly. Eye issues or other health problems detected by an eye exam are much easier to treat when caught early. If you’re having any concerns about your child’s vision, never hesitate to talk to your optometrist. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have!