Regular eye exams are important for children since their eyes can change significantly as the muscles and tissue develop. Good eyesight is critical for a child’s life and achievements since success in school is closely tied to vision and eye health. School demands intense visual involvement, including reading, writing, using computers, and blackboard/smartboard work. Even physical activities and sports require strong vision. If their eyes aren’t up to the task, a child may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, have problems in school or have difficulty playing their favorite games which may affect their overall quality of life.
According to research, a child should have an initial screening between 6 and 12 months of age. After that, routine eye health and vision examinations throughout childhood should be performed in order to help detect any abnormalities as their eyes develop.
For a newborn, your pediatrician will examine the baby’s eyes and perform a test called “red reflex test” which is a basic indicator that the eyes are normal. In a case that the baby is premature or at high risk for medical problems for other reasons, has signs of abnormalities, or has a family history of serious vision disorders in childhood, your pediatrician will refer your child to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
If eye or vision problems are suspected in infants between six months and 1 year of age, then a pediatric eye examination should be perforrmed. This examination includes tests of pupil responses to evaluate whether the pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light, a fixate and follow test to determine whether the baby can fixate on an object such as a light and follow it as it moves and a Bruckner test to detect ametropia or other abnormalities.
For a Preschooler, between the ages of 2 and 3½, Dr. Kubota can usually perform a comprehensive eye examination measuring the child’s visual acuity using pictures instead of letters. She will also asses the alignment and health of the child's eyes. If the child is diagnosed with misaligned eyes (strabismus), "lazy eye” (amblyopia), refractive errors (astigmatism, myopia, hyperopia) or any other focusing problems, it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible to ensure complete vision development occurs giving the child life-long benefits.
From then on, annual comprehensive eye exams are recommended to ensure that the child's eyes stay healthy and strong so they can excel in all aspects of life.
There are some signs that help parents tell if their child has a vision problem. For example, the child may squint, they cannot see the airplane or bird in the sky, they hold reading materials very close to their face or they complain that they can't see. However, there are some less obvious signs that may indicate vision problems, such as:
That’s why it is so important for children to have annual comprehensive eye examinations. The earlier a vision problem is found and treated, the better off your child will be in and out of school.