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Children's vision

Children’s Eye Care


Eye Exams

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA) children should have their eyes examined by an eye doctor at 6 months, 3 years, at the start of school, and then at least every 2 years following. If there are any signs that there may be a vision problem or if the child has certain risk factors (such as developmental delays, premature birth, crossed or lazy eyes, family history or previous injuries) more frequent exams are recommended. A child that wears eyeglasses or contact lenses should have his or her eyes examined yearly. Children’s eyes can change rapidly as they grow.


Infants: Birth – 24 Months

A baby’s visual system develops gradually over the first few months of life. They have to learn to focus and move their eyes, and use them together as a team. The brain also needs to learn how to process the visual information from the eyes to understand and interact with the world. The foundation for motor development such as crawling, walking and hand-eye coordination also comes with the development of eyesight.

You can ensure that your baby is reaching milestones by keeping an eye on what is happening with your infant’s development and by ensuring that you schedule a comprehensive infant eye exam at 6 months. At this exam, the eye doctor will check that the child is seeing properly and developing on track, and look for conditions that could impair eye health or vision (such as strabismus (misalignment or crossing of the eyes), farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism).

Since there is a higher risk of eye and vision problems if your infant was born premature or is showing signs of developmental delay, your eye doctor may require more frequent visits to keep watch on his or her progress.

Preschool Children: 2-5

The toddler and preschool age is a period when children experience drastic growth in intellectual and motor skills. During this time they will develop the fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and perceptual abilities that will prepare them to read and write, play sports and participate in creative activities such as drawing, sculpting or building. This is all dependent upon good vision and visual processes.

This is the age when parents should be on the lookout for signs of lazy eye (amblyopia) – when one eye doesn’t see clearly, or crossed eyes (strabismus) – when one or both eyes turn inward or outward. The earlier these conditions are treated, the higher the success rate.

Parents should also be aware of any developmental delays having to do with object, number or letter recognition, color recognition or coordination, as the root of such problems can often be visual. If you notice your child squinting, rubbing his eyes frequently, sitting very close to the tv or reading material, or generally avoiding activities such as puzzles or coloring, it is worth a trip to the eye doctor.

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School-Aged Children: Ages 6-18

Undetected or uncorrected vision problems can cause children and teens to suffer academically, socially, athletically and personally. If your child is having trouble in school or after school activities there could be an underlying vision problem. Proper learning, motor development, reading, and many other skills are dependent upon not only good vision, but also the ability of your eyes to work together. Children that have problems with focusing, reading, teaming their eyes or hand-eye coordination will often experience frustration, and may exhibit behavioral problems as well. Often they don’t know that the vision they are experiencing is abnormal, so they aren’t able to express that they need help.

In addition to the symptoms written above, signs of vision problems in older children include:

  • Short attention span
  • Headaches
  • Frequent blinking
  • Avoiding reading
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • Losing their place often while reading
  • Double vision
  • Poor reading comprehension

The Eye Exam

In addition to basic visual acuity (distance and near vision) an eye exam may assess the following visual skills that are required for learning and mobility:

  • Binocular vision: how the eyes work together as a team
  • Focusing
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Color Vision
  • Hand-eye Coordination
  • Tracking

The doctor will also examine the area around the eye and inside the eye to check for any eye diseases or health conditions. You should tell the doctor any relevant personal history of your child such as a premature birth, developmental delays, family history of eye problems, eye injuries or medications the child is taking. This would also be the time to address any concerns or issues your child has that might indicate a vision problem.

Following the guidelines for children’s eye exams and staying alert to any signs of vision problems can help your child to reach his or her potential.

Kids' Vision & Learning

There’s More To Child Learning Than Just 20/20 Vision

Even if your child doesn’t need corrective lenses, he or she may be experiencing vision problems. These eye conditions can cause learning problems and substandard educational results. A child’s visual acuity (how well s/he can see the wall chart) is an essential aspect of good vision but there are other factors which may prove more important. You may already be aware that a nearsighted child has little trouble reading or that good grades in school can be acquired even if much of the teacher’s board cannot be seen by the student.

Questions Related to Eyesight and Learning:

  • Eye movement skills

    Do your child’s eyes move across the page in a book smoothly and accurately?

  • Eye focusing abilities

    Does your child change focus from near to far and back again – between reading text from a far-away white or black-board and writing on paper?

  • Eye teaming skills

    Are your child’s eyes working together as a focus unit – do they come together for proper eye alignment for reading?

  • Binocular vision skills

    Are your child’s eyes blending visual images from both eyes into a single, three-dimensional image?

  • Visual perceptual skills

    Does your child identify and understand what s/he sees, co-relating importance, connecting with previous visual memorized information?

  • Visual-motor integration

    Is the quality of your child’s eye-hand coordination balanced? Visual-motor integration is important not only for legible handwriting and the ability to efficiently copy written information from a book or board but also for sports. Deficiencies in any of these can be detrimental to a child’s learning ability and/or school performance.

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Vision Problems Do Affect Kids Learning

Undetected learning-related vision problems in children are common. A child with an untreated vision problem may be misdiagnosed with behavior problems or ADHD/ADD when in reality they have a vision problem. Vision problems, in extreme cases, ignored or misdiagnosed, can become the true root cause of a child becoming the victim or aggressor in a school bullying tragedy.

Left untreated, vision problems will hinder your child’s learning in school. Studies have shown that at least 13% of children between the ages of nine-thirteen suffer from moderate to severe convergence insufficiency, the ability to bring one’s eyes together, which is crucial for good reading. Studies demonstrate clearly that 1 out of 4 school-age children suffer from at least one learning related vision problem.

Learning-Related Vision Problems

Some of the most common roadmap symptoms of learning-related vision disorders are:

  • Double vision, particularly during or after reading
  • Poor handwriting
  • Hyperactivity or recklessness during class
  • Word and letter reversals
  • Easily distracted during reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Poor overall school performance
  • Circumventing of reading
  • Blurred vision, especially after reading or working closely
  • Eye Strain or frequent headaches

Call us to schedule a comprehensive child’s vision exam if your child exhibits one or more of these signs or symptoms and is exhibiting these types of problems in school.


Comprehensive Child Vision Exam

A comprehensive child’s vision exam includes tests performed in a routine eye exam, plus specific additional tests for detecting learning-related vision problems.

Extra tests would include accommodation, binocular vision, and ocular motility testing. In addition to these, depending on the type of problems your child is displaying, we may recommend other testing, either in our office or with a child’s vision and/or vision development specialist.


Vision Therapy

Special reading glasses or vision therapy may help your child if s/he has a learning-related vision problem that cannot be corrected with regular glasses or contact lenses. Vision therapy entails eye exercises and other activities specifically tailored for each patient to improve vision skills.


Learning Disabilities and Vision

Although children with learning disabilities may also have vision problems that are contributing to their difficulties in the classroom, vision therapy is a treatment for vision problems; it does not correct a learning disability. A child’s learning ability and school performance may indicate learning disabilities and/or vision problems.

Once your child’s comprehensive vision exam is completed, our doctor will advise you about whether a program of vision therapy could be helpful. We will refer you to a children’s vision or education/learning specialist if we do not provide the specified additional services your child needs.

Kid’s Optical

Choosing Eyeglass Frames For Children

According to statistics, approximately one out of five children need to wear glasses to see accurately. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get children to wear glasses for one of several reasons. Children can find glasses uncomfortable, “uncool” and unstylish, or too fragile for an active life. Fortunately, there are strong, comfortable, stylish frames now made for children. These glasses not only improve vision, but they look great.


The right fit

A comfortable, correct fit is essential for children’s glasses. The frames should not be too big or too small, too close to the cheekbone and not higher than the eyebrow. The frames should fit the face well, and not be wider than the face itself. In general, the smaller the frames the easier it is for a child to forget about them, and not mind wearing them. However, they need to be large enough so that your child can see easily in all directions. An eye specialist needs to help fit the glasses, because the middle of the glasses needs to be adjusted to directly correspond to the middle of the pupils of the eye. Even small fitting errors can lead to much less effective vision correction. Parents should resist any urge to buy glasses that are a bit large for their children to grow into.

It’s also very important that the glasses fit properly on the bridge of the nose. Children have small noses and bridges, so the nose support of the glasses needs to fit very well, and be comfortable, with padding. If the glasses sit on pressure points, they will be very uncomfortable, and it’s unlikely your child will wear them. A new feature is gel-padding, that makes the nose bridge extra comfortable. With these features the glasses will be more comfortable to wear. Pay attention to the way the frames fit at the temples. They should fit comfortably, without pressure, and without being too loose. Spring hinges are very strong, and will ensure the frames have a long lifetime of wear. Eyeglasses fitted with sport temples are also an option. These temples are flexible, and are fitted for a child’s ear.

Materials Frame materials for children’s glasses need to have three properties – be extremely strong, break resistant and light. The ideal frame will be made out of a flexible material that can be bent about without breaking. For this reason eyeglass frames made of titanium are a good choice, as this material is light and strong. As for the lenses, polycarbonate lenses are more impact-resistant than other lenses, and are a good choice for children’s glasses.


Sports Glasses

Sports can be particularly challenging for children who need to wear glasses. Glasses tend to slip and slide with strong movements. Special sports glasses for children are available, that are made entirely out of plastic, with temples that don’t include hinges. These glasses include an elastic strap for the head that helps make sure the glasses stay in place.


Include your child

The most important part of choosing eyeglasses, is choosing them with your child. Include your child in the choice of glasses, among styles that are suitable. If your child likes the way the glasses look and feel, there is a much better chance that your child will actually wear them. When children wear their glasses they are more successful at everything that they do, both casual activities like sports and games, and learning activities at school.

Myopia Control

Myopia Control Starts with an Eye Exam

Regular comprehensive eye exams for your child at all stages of their development is extremely important to ensure a child’s vision will develop as it should and to diagnose any eye conditions that may be affecting your child. There are many eye conditions, such as strabismus and amblyopia that can be corrected easily if caught early but can do irreversible damage that will affect a child into adulthood if left undiagnosed and untreated for too long. However, one of the leading causes of ocular disease in adults that continues to progress is myopia or nearsightedness.

Myopia Control May Include:

  • Atropine Drops
  • Multifocal contact lenses
  • Multifocal eyeglasses

Slow or Stop Myopia Control

While nearsightedness or myopia for many has been corrected through glasses or contact lenses, a modern concept has developed called Myopia Control. Myopia control is oriented to slow down or stop the progression of myopia since over the past few decades myopia has increased at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, the percentage of moderate to high myopia has grown in number and myopia control is becoming a major consideration for parents & their child’s eye health.

Levels of Myopia:

  • Mild myopia: -0.25 to -3.00 D
  • Moderate myopia: Between -3.00 to -6.00 D
  • High myopia: More than -6.00 D

Myopia Control Prevents Risk of Ocular Disease
  • Cataracts

    The rate of progression of myopia has been linked to the development of cataracts. The higher the level of myopia in a child, the faster the rate cataracts can develop when they get older.

  • Glaucoma

    Glaucoma is when the eye develops an unusually high pressure, where this pressure can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. Studies have shown that nearsighted people have a 2-3x greater risk at Glaucoma.

  • Detached Retina

    Levels of myopia also have a correlation to detached retinas. A detached retina is when the retina pulls away from the eyes tissue, often resulting in permanent vision loss.

Myopia Control Starts with You – The Parent

Your child’s eyes are his/her gateway into the world of learning. When your child’s vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer. Children are not likely to recognize vision problems like myopia, and it is, therefore, the responsibility of parents and teachers to recognize signs of visual problems in their children.


Children’s Eyesight May Change, Less Often With Myopia Control

Because changes in your child’s vision can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. Myopia control attempts to reduce the number of changes that may occur in your child’s vision. With a successful myopia control program, an eye doctor can provide your child with amazing vision, track your child’s rate of myopia, and provide a clear road to healthy eyesight and a successful future.

Sunglasses for Kids

Many parents don’t know the importance of sunglasses for children and don’t stress that they wear them, especially given the hassle involved in encouraging children to wear them and take care of them properly. However, studies show that since we spend so much time outdoors and in the sunshine as children that by the age of 18, our eyes and body have absorbed half of our lifetime ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. This makes the use of sunglasses and proper UV protection even more critical for children.

Risks to children’s eyes from overexposure to the sun can be short term and long term. Short terms risks include photokeratitis also known as “snow blindness” which is essentially a sunburn of the eye. Photokeratitis can cause temporary vision loss for up to 48 hours. Pterygium is another condition, also referred to as “surfer’s eye,” which causes an itchy, swollen growth to form on the surface of the eye. Pterygium often require surgery to remove.

Long term UV damage is known to be a risk factor for a number of eye diseases including cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye that causes vision loss) and age-related macular degeneration, which also causes permanent vision loss and low vision, as well as cancer of the eye, eyelid or the skin around the eye. Wearing sunglasses with wide or wrap-around lenses will protect not only your eyes, but also the area around your eyes from UV exposure and damage. Since these diseases can be caused by an accumulation of UV exposure over a lifetime, it is important to start preventative measures early, by getting children in the habit of wearing sunglasses when they are outside.

Quality sunglasses for children are easy to find these days, you just have to know what to look for. Firstly, you want to make sure that the lenses have 100% UVA and UVB protection and block UV absorption up to 400 nanometers. You also want to ensure that the frames completely cover as much of the eye and its surrounding as possible. Many frames will come with a band to help hold the sunglasses in place and prevent loss. You may also choose to buy polycarbonate or trivex lenses, as they are more durable and impact resistant which is particularly helpful for active kids.

Children that already wear eyeglasses can consider photochromic lenses (which darken in response to sunlight) which basically gives them two pairs of glasses for the price of one. With photochromic lenses, you don’t need to worry about your children switching, and misplacing glasses when they go in or outdoors.

As with any glasses purchase, ask your optician about the policy for lost or broken sunglasses. Make sure you get a strong storage case and discuss with your child the best ways to keep the sunglasses safe and secure.

Lastly, let your child be involved in the process of selecting sunglasses, as any child will be more enthusiastic about wearing shades that he or she picked out and loves.