Mid-August may not be the time you want to be thinking about kids going back-to-school, but unfortunately, September is right around the corner, and your kids need to be ready. Along with those school supplies, have you made sure that their eyes are ready for another school year? After all, the best high-tech equipment in the world won’t do any good if your child can’t see it properly. When was the last time your child saw an optometrist?
How Often Does my Child Need to Have His/Her Eyes Tested?
Just like the rest of their body, children’s eyes grow, develop and change considerably in their first few years. Your pediatrician will usually check your newborn’s eyes for general eye health before your child leaves the hospital. Premature babies or those with a family history of eye trouble should see an optometrist within the first month or two. Otherwise, your child’s first eye examination should be around age three. The next exam should be around age five, or just before entering school. After that, children should see their optometrist annually until age 18, or more often if there are eye problems, or if your optometrist recommends it.
What Types of Vision Problems Commonly Affect Children?
Children are subject to virtually every eye condition that adults are, but there are a few that you should try to catch early. Amblyopia (lazy eye) and Strabismus (misaligned eyes) are both conditions that can be corrected if caught early. In the case of Retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer which is almost exclusive to children three and under, early detection offers the best chance of retaining vision. With eye conditions such as Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness) and Astigmatism, little can be done to prevent the conditions, but early detection can give the opportunity to prescribe corrective lenses, thus giving the child optimum vision.
New Vision Concerns
In our era of modern technology, a new concern for your child’s vision has been detected. That is the danger of excessive exposure to blue light. Blue light is the light that makes the sky look blue. It is also the light that is reflected back from florescent tubes, and television, computer, tablet and smart phone screens. Natural blue light that we get from the sun helps to improve your mood, boost alertness and improve your reaction speed. However, excessive exposure, especially later into the evening and at night, can lower your production of melatonin. This can lead to headaches, dry, itchy, watery eyes, restlessness, physical and mental fatigue and depression. Excessive exposure to blue light can even lead to early onset macular degeneration. The best thing you can do for your whole family is to limit exposure to blue light, especially later in the evening. Set a time when all devices are turned off for the night, and stick to it.
Don’t forget about Sunlight
While you are out enjoying the summer sunshine, keep in mind that your children’s eyes need as much protection from harmful Ultraviolet (UV) radiation as your’s do. Make sure that they have a good quality pair of sunglasses that protect vision from 100 percent of UV rays, and make sure that your children wear them. The best way to do this is to have them be part of the buying process. Make a bid deal of getting the perfect pair of sunglasses. That way the odds are better that they will wear them properly.
What Else Can I Do to Protect My Child’s Vision?
The best thing you can do to protect your child’s vision is to keep your eyes open. If you see them rubbing their eyes, or if they seem to have trouble reading something, or seeing something clearly, ask them about it. If they complain about sore, itchy eyes, or headaches, or if they say something looks blurry, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your optometrist immediately. Don’t take chances with your child’s vision.