Did you know that a child between the ages of 0-19 is covered for an annual eye exam under OHIP?
Did you know that it has been estimated that 80% of the learning a child does is through their eyes?
Did you know that undiagnosed vision problems present with symptoms similar to those that can confirm the diagnosis of ADHD or ADD in children?
Children are extremely adaptable to their environment. As a child develops, their brain is learning how to use their eyes to see. Since a child has no basis for comparison, they are unable to adequately express a lack of vision. As development progresses, children simply accept vision shortfalls. It is for this reason that children should visit an optometrist regularly during ocular development. The optometrist will ensure that your child’s eyes are developing at an acceptable rate. Undiagnosed vision problems or uncorrected vision problems can result in permanent uncorrectable vision loss.
A child’s vision is developing rapidly from the time they are born…
Until a baby is approximately 3 months old their eyes cannot focus on objects more than 8-10 inches from their face.
At three months, a baby should be able to follow a moving object with their eyes and reach for things.
At 5 months a baby develops depth and color perception.
By 10 months a baby should be able to grasp objects with thumb and finger.
Crawling is an excellent way to develop hand-eye coordination and should be encouraged.
By 1 year a baby should be able to judge distances fairly accurately and throw an object with some precision.
By 1-2 years old a child should recognize familiar objects and be able to scribble with a pencil or crayon.
It is important to note that these stages of development are being met in a reasonable time frame. Inability to perform some of these basic tasks can be an indication of vision problems. Some other signs of eye and vision problems are:
- Excessive tearing
- Red or encrusted eye lids
- Persistent turning of one or both eyes in any direction
- Highly sensitive to light
- White appearance to the pupil
For tips on how you can help to develop your child’s vision, please use the following link:
Preschool: 2-5 years
From 2-5 your child is learning to fine-tune their visual abilities. This will develop their fine motor skills and give them the skills necessary to learn to read and write.
It is at this age that parents should be most aware of the presence of vision problems such as a crossed or lazy eye. This is also referred to as strabismus. When one eye is misaligned, the other eye becomes dominant. The misaligned eye does not focus properly and the visual pathway to the brain is not properly formed. If this is left untreated it can lead to permanent vision loss and impair the child’s ability to see in 3-D. Most cases of strabismus can be fully corrected if treated before the age of 8.
Methods of treatment include:
- Patching the good eye in order to force the non-dominant eye to be strengthened
- Glasses to assist the non- dominant eye
- If glasses and/ or patching are not effective, surgery can be performed.
Parents should be monitoring children for signs of vision problems such as:
- Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Tilting their head
- Frequently rubbing their eyes
- Short attention span for the child’s age
- Turning of an eye in or out
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding
- Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities
If you notice any of these signs, please see your local Optometrist.
Some children with vision problems can display signs of hyperactivity and distractibility. Many children are mislabeled as having ADD, or ADHD, when in fact an untreated vision problem is the underlying cause.
It is very important for your child to have an eye exam yearly. A child’s vision can change rapidly. An eye exam is not only to check how well one can see, but to check the health of the eye and quality of vision also. An eye exam for a child is covered with a valid health card once per year, or as requested but an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.
Your children also require sun protection for their eyes. A good pair of sunglasses with full UVA/UVB protection is recommended.
Polycarbonate lenses can be used in ophthalmic glasses to offer UV protection as well as impact resistance. Please inquire with your Optician for further details.
The above information has been sourced from the following pages: