Did you know that most people learn best through their eyes? For babies, their primary way of learning is through what they see and it's crucial for them to have good vision to reach their developmental milestones. So as you can tell, our eyes are amazing. They allow us to see and learn from the world around us.
Sometimes, parents are surprised to learn that their young children need eye tests. They often assume their kids' vision is okay and prioritise dentist and doctor's appointments instead. But imagine placing a piece of bubble wrap over your eyes and trying to see. That's what it's like for 1 in 4 children who have vision problems in their early years before anyone realises it.
These kids don't complain about or even notice their vision condition because they've always seen this way. However, not catching these vision problems early can lead to issues with the eye and brain connection, making it harder for their eyes to work together and affecting their depth perception. If these issues aren't detected while the eyes are still developing, they can cause long-term problems. That's why getting eye exams early is so important.
So, when should your child have their eyes tested?
Here's what the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommend:
Newborns: Doctors usually check basic things like blinking and how the baby reacts to light. If a baby is born prematurely or has a family history of eye disease, it's a good idea to have an ophthalmologist do a thorough screening.
3 to 5 years old: In this age range, it's important to examine a child's eye alignment and vision. If they can read letters, they can also have a visual acuity test. There are other ways to test vision if a child can't talk.
5 to 6 years and older: As children start reading and learning to write, it's crucial to have their visual acuity tested. They should also be checked for common vision issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Apart from these age-based guidelines, you should also watch for signs that your child might need an eye test, such as an unusual head tilt, slower progress in milestones like crawling, difficulty reading, sitting very close to the TV, trouble following objects with their eyes, difficulty catching balls, and clumsiness, like running into walls. If you notice any of these signs, don't hesitate to get their eyes checked.
Remember, it's crucial to regularly check your child's eyes during their growth, and if you suspect something is off with their vision, get it checked out sooner rather than later.
Early detection is the key to prevention.
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