How To Keep Them Healthy
Healthy eyes and good vision can be crucial to children's development, yet up to one in five school-age children has a vision problem. That's where parents can make a difference.
Most of these vision issues can be managed with corrective lenses, and correcting children's vision can lead to better school performance and psychosocial health, according to reports from parents, teachers, and the children themselves. The finding was among survey results published in the December 2015 issue of the Maternal and Child Health Journal. Parents can play a crucial role in their children's vision by making sure their children get all recommended vision screenings and eye exams and by quickly responding to signs of a potential problem.
When Should Kids Have an Eye Exam?
Both the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that youngsters have their vision checked at certain ages and milestones:
- Newborns should be examined for possible congenital eye problems.
- At some time between 6 and 12 months of age, children should have their first comprehensive eye exam. The health care provider will look for eye health problems and signs of vision issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or problems with eye movement.
- Between 3 and 3½ years old, children should have their first visual acuity test, which will determine whether they need glasses to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Experts recommend a follow-up eye exam of a child's visual acuity and eye alignment by age 5. The health care provider can compare this exam to the previous one to predict the child's future eye health and potential vision problems.
- From then on, eye exams should be done annually for children who need glasses. All children should receive regular vision screenings at school and the doctor's office, with an eye exam by an eye specialist every two years.
Signs of Vision Problems in Children
The AAP recommends that parents watch for:
- Eyes that don't track or line up together
- Recurrent headaches and nausea not related to an illness
- Constant rubbing of the eyes
- Extreme reactions to glare or bright light
- Inability to follow an object with their eyes
- Chronic tearing or redness of the eyes
- Frequent squinting
- Difficulty reading or nausea after reading
- Problems seeing objects at a distance
- Difficulty reading a blackboard from the middle or back of the classroom
- Sitting close to the TV
- Holding books close to the face
- Writing with the head close to the writing surface
- Closing one eye to see better
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