When and how of­ten?

The Oban Times - - News - with John Wal­lace

Two of the most fre­quent ques­tions I am asked are ‘When should I start hav­ing my child’s eyes ex­am­ined?’ and ‘How of­ten should my child’s eyes be checked?’

There are no pre­scribed lim­its to when your child should start hav­ing eye ex­am­i­na­tions. Ob­vi­ously it is dif­fi­cult to mea­sure how well your child can see. Many op­tometrists now have com­put­erised eye charts that give the child a choice of read­ing let­ters or of recog­nis­ing shapes. With very young chil­dren, it is still pos­si­ble to mea­sure their vis­ual acu­ity us­ing spe­cial charts de­signed to be visu­ally in­ter­est­ing to the very young. Per­haps the best an­swer is, if you think your child is not see­ing well or they have an ob­vi­ous squint, age is ir­rel­e­vant and you should take them to your op­tometrist. If you sim­ply want re­as­sur­ance, and your child is not hav­ing any ob­vi­ous vis­ual prob­lems, reg­u­lar ex­am­i­na­tions start­ing from three years of age are rec­om­mended.

How of­ten you should have your child’s eyes ex­am­ined again de­pends on how well they are see­ing and how well their eyes work to­gether. As­sum­ing ev­ery­thing is nor­mal, an an­nual eye ex­am­i­na­tion from age three would be ap­pro­pri­ate. If your child has a prob­lem with their vi­sion, your op­tometrist may rec­om­mend more fre­quent ex­am­i­na­tions. This is more likely when your child is grow­ing fast in early ado­les­cence.

Re­cent re­search has found chil­dren are be­com­ing my­opic (short-sighted) at an ear­lier age. It used to start around age 12 to 13 and is now start­ing from age 10. Your op­tometrist will want to see your child ev­ery six months if they are show­ing signs of be­com­ing short-sighted.

My­opia in child­hood is not in­evitable and can be con­trolled and you should seek ad­vice on pre­ven­tion from an op­tometrist spe­cial­is­ing in my­opia con­trol.

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