Chil­dren and their eye­sight

South Shore Breaker - - Homes - SEE CLEAR ed­i­[email protected]­breaker.ca

If you no­tice your child squint as they sit very close to the TV, it may be a sign for an eye exam, but did you know some child­hood vi­sion prob­lems go com­pletely un­no­ticed?

The Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Op­tometrists sug­gests that a child’s first exam oc­curs at six to nine months of age, a sec­ond be­tween age two and five and then an­nu­ally un­til age 19.

There are many rea­sons to have your child’s eyes ex­am­ined rou­tinely.

Am­bly­opia or “lazy eye” is a con­di­tion that is of­ten caused be­cause of a large, un­treated pre­scrip­tion and/or an eye turn. If not caught early, the brain shuts down some or all com­mu­ni­ca­tion with that eye and the child may have sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced sight in that eye for life.

Once this hap­pens, glasses usu­ally don’t help be­cause it is a prob­lem with the path­way be­tween the eye and the brain. If caught early enough, it can be fairly sim­ple to treat.

An­other rea­son for rou­tine eye ex­ams is that chil­dren can’t al­ways tell you that their vi­sion is not clear be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to ex­plain or be­cause they have noth­ing to com­pare it to. This oc­curs in young chil­dren, but ado­les­cents as well.

A com­mon com­ment when a pre­teen or teenager gets glasses for the first time is that they can see in­di­vid­ual leaves on trees, rather than just a blan­ket of colour.

Chil­dren should have reg­u­lar eye ex­ams be­cause they learn so much through their eyes.

Imag­ine try­ing to learn while be­ing un­able to see the board! Also, kids grow fast, and so do their eyes.

From one year to the next, chil­dren can go from not need­ing glasses at all to sud­denly need­ing glasses or to need­ing a sig­nif­i­cant pre­scrip­tion change.

Chil­dren should also have reg­u­lar eye ex­ams be­cause if they no­tice their vi­sion is blurry, they may not com­plain be­cause they may not want to wear glasses.

With all the trendy styles and fun choices that we have these days, most kids are ex­cited for new glasses, but some are still a bit ap­pre­hen­sive about wear­ing them.

They of­ten warm up to the idea of wear­ing glasses, es­pe­cially when they can see how nice it is to have clear vi­sion, but the first step is get­ting the eye exam.

If your child needs to wear glasses, your li­censed op­ti­cian or op­tometrist are knowl­edge­able and un­der­stand the unique con­sid­er­a­tions of fit­ting chil­dren with eye­wear.

Chil­dren’s faces are quite dif­fer­ent than adults. The size and shape of the bridge of a child’s nose makes find­ing the per­fect frame a bit tricky and some chil­dren also tend to be quite small from their face to the back of the ear. Some­times spe­cial frames have to be or­dered or your op­ti­cian will cus­tom cut and fit the tem­ples.

Your li­cenced eye­care pro­fes­sional will also ver­ify the pre­scrip­tion and mea­sure­ments. Kids adapt eas­ily and their eyes can quickly ac­cept a dif­fer­ent pre­scrip­tion, so it is very im­por­tant the glasses are checked with the proper equip­ment and that you get ex­actly what the op­tometrist pre­scribed.

Also, con­sider up­dat­ing their glasses reg­u­larly. Their pre­scrip­tion can change each year; they quickly out­grow their frames and their mea­sure­ments!

When it comes to your child’s eye­sight, don’t wait for ob­vi­ous prob­lems.

Book your child for reg­u­lar eye ex­ams and trust a li­censed eye­care pro­fes­sional for your child’s eye­wear needs.

TANYA MACPHEE, D.O., C.C.L.F.

123RF

When it comes to your child’s eye­sight, don’t wait for ob­vi­ous prob­lems.

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