As an adult, you probably know that you should be attending regular comprehensive eye exams to monitor the health and condition of your eyes. However, these appointments are also important for your child, especially since their eyes and vision will still be developing during the earlier years of their life. These appointments are called pediatric eye exams and should start at around six months of age. Unless an issue is detected, their next eye exam will be at around age 3 and then again when they start 1st grade.
Clear vision is important at all periods of our lives, including in infancy and childhood. Seeing is a crucial element of learning and development. Studies estimate that as much as 80% of learning in schools is presented in a visual format. Unsurprisingly, this means that if your child cannot see clearly, they will not be able to access their learning as well as their peers who do have good vision. This could lead to them not meeting their academic targets, not achieving the necessary grades to go to college, etc. This may seem a long way away, but the longer that vision problems go undetected, the further behind your child could fall.
There is also a wider social and behavioral impact of poor vision. Many children who cannot see clearly become embarrassed by the way that their vision problems impact their learning and may develop behavior problems as a way to distract those around them from the difficulties that they face. In fact, many children are misdiagnosed with learning disorders such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or dyslexia. Regular eye exams will ensure that vision problems that could be affecting your child’s learning are detected, giving them the opportunity to fulfill their potential at school.
When your child doesn’t have the verbal skills to be able to communicate with you, it can be difficult to tell if they are experiencing issues with their vision. Instead, you will need to observe your infant for behaviors and other signs that they may not be able to see as clearly as they should. Some of the signs that a child may have vision problems include:
Constant eye rubbing
Extreme light sensitivity
Poor visual tracking (the ability to follow an object with their eyes)
Excessive tearing of the eyes
Redness of the eyes
Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes
Unusual coloring of the pupil
If you notice any of these changes in your child, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to have their vision assessed.
Many eye doctors offer InfantSEE® - a public health program that is managed by Optometry Cares® - the AOA Foundation. InfantSEE® provides a free, comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age to every child, regardless of their family income or their access to insurance coverage.
We are pleased to offer InfantSEE® here at our eye care office in Silverthorne, CO – please call our team at (970) 451-0015 to schedule an InfantSEE® or any other pediatric eye exam appointment for your child.