So in an effort to help educate and inspire moms to go out and get their kids checked, I have put together this list of five things we learned from our visit to Pearle Vision.
Kids Should Get Eye Exams Starting at Three Years Old
Three? Really? I had thought I was taking Dexter early, and it turned out I’d waited a couple years too long! Dr Gray explained to us that eye exams for children are extremely important. 5% to 10% of preschoolers (not to mention 25% of school-aged children) have vision problems. It is crucial to identify these problems early because kids are far more responsive to treatment when diagnosed early.
Basic Skills for School Are Dependent on Good Eye Sight
It’s not something you’re likely to think about unless you have your own history with vision problems. But can you imagine how difficult school would be if you couldn’t see properly? Dexter is about to begin Kindergarten, and I dread to think what it would have been like if we hadn’t found out he needed glasses. Kids need both near vision and distance vision so they can see the chalkboard and/or see their workbooks. They need basic hand-eye coordination to learn all the fine motor skills that will set them up for life. They need good focusing skills, which is of huge importance in a school setting. Dr. Gray told us that kids have an especially good ability to focus their eyes when they need to. This is why he dilated Dexter’s pupils during his eye test. It allowed him to see Dexter’s actual ability to see. Kids who turn on their abilities to focus are actually causing their eyes to strain more and get tired. Diagnosing any issues now will keep eyes from getting worse!
There Are Signs You Can Look For That Will Help You Figure Out if Your Child May Have a Problem
From the time they are babies, there are signs you can look for that there may be issues with your child’s vision. Knowing these signs can actually help with diagnosis. Dr Gray asked us about Dexter’s history. He wanted to know if he was premature (he was not) or if he had a history of delayed motor development (he did!). He asked about any eye rubbing, excessive blinking and failure to maintain eye contact. He wanted to know if Dexter was able to maintain his gaze while looking at things, both still and moving objects.
These are all things that we should be looking for in our kids, as they may mean issues with eyesight.
Kids Don’t Need to Be Able to Read To Take an Eye Test
One of the main reasons that parents don’t necessarily think to take their children to the eye doctor is that they think a child must know all their letters and numbers before they can be tested. This is not true at all! A doctor could get much information from some of these common preschool-aged eye tests.
First, they use LEA symbols. These are similar to normal eye tests that use letter charts, but these have special symbols with shapes that are easily identified by younger children. Think apples and squares and circles.
Next, they use retinoscopy, which is a test that involves shining light into the eyes so they can see the retina. This helps to determine your child’s prescription.
Finally, they use something called a random dot stereopsis test, which has your child wearing 3D glasses to visualize various dots in a special book. These help the doctor determine how well your child’s eyes work together.
There Is More to Eye Health Than Just How Well You Can See
Even if your child shows no signs of near- or farsightedness, there could still be other things that are problematic. Another good reason for starting eye tests early is to check for common problems we may not notice without a professional assessment.
- Lazy Eye is decreased vision in one or both eyes. This is not always something that glasses can fix, and it may involve wearing an eye patch to help strengthen the weaker eye.
- Color Blindness can inhibit your child from doing well in school as they can not differentiate between colors very well, causing issues with learning.
- Eye Alignment (or misalignment) can often be a cause of lazy eye. It is caused by a lack of muscle control in the affected eye(s). This will need to be treated as early as possible
- Depth Perception is the ability to gauge distances between objects, which is necessary in all aspects of life to keep us safe. If your child is constantly running into things, it could be a problem with depth perception
Other issues that doctors check for are overall eye health and the health of your eyelids. There may be abnormal or infected follicles, eye discharge, swelling or cloudiness.
I am so grateful that we had such an amazing appointment at Pearle Vision. Dexter has been wearing his glasses for a few weeks now, and it is easy to see the difference in how he behaves. Instead of standing inches from the TV screen, he is able to sit back and relax. Instead of holding his tablet computer far away from his face, he can now hold it in a normal position to play his favorite games. School will be starting very soon, and I know that I feel a lot more relaxed about it knowing that he’ll be covered as far as his sight needs. Hopefully he will not have to worry about falling behind due to such an easily solved problem.
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