August means two things: summer is ending and back-to-school is right around the corner — it’s also Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month! Which is exactly why we’re putting a focus on children’s eye exams (just in time for all that increased screen time and online learning).
With COVID-19 changing the way we interact with the world, you may have questions about how or if your child should get a pediatric eye exam. Below, we cover why children’s eye health is so important, plus best practices for keeping your kiddo’s peepers safe and healthy during this uncertain time.
The Importance of Children’s Eye Health
Children have sensitive eyes, and it’s important to make sure their sight is as healthy and clear as it can be. Yearly eye exams help to determine if your child may have vision problems that could interfere with school, play, or everyday activities — all of which are essential for development and learning.
Have your kiddo’s eyes examined to determine if they have any of the following vision problems that may be affecting their eyesight. Besides checking for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, your child’s eye doctor will look for signs of other vision or eye problems, including:
Lazy eye (amblyopia) — Decreased vision in one or both eyes that’s not correctable with eyeglasses alone. Lazy eyes often require eye patching, a method that helps to strengthen the weaker eye. This is most successful when done at an early age.
Misalignment of eyes (strabismus) — Crossed or misaligned eyes. This is a common cause of amblyopia, and should be treated as early as possible to ensure proper vision development.
Convergence insufficiency — The inability to maintain eye alignment when reading or viewing objects up close. This may cause your child to experience eye discomfort, headaches, and/or double vision that could affect their academic performance.
Other vision problems — Your child’s eye doctor may also check for other vision problems that could affect learning, such as inaccurate focusing, depth perception problems, or color blindness.
Eye health problems — As part of a comprehensive eye exam, the doctor also will thoroughly check the health of your child’s eyes to rule out pink eye, other eye infections, or other abnormalities.
When to Schedule Your Child’s Eye Exam
All children should have their first eye exam at age 6 months, followed by another exam at 3 years to ensure their eyes and vision are developing properly.
Once your little one is of school-age (ages 5 and up), exams at least every two years are recommended. If any vision problems are detected, your child’s eye doctor may recommend annual exams.
With COVID-19, scheduling an eye exam may look a little different — so the first step should be calling your eye doctor to see if they’re taking in-person appointments at the moment. If they are, strict hygiene procedures will likely be in place for you and your little one to follow (i.e., masks, temperature checks, waiting room limits, social distancing, sanitization of the exam room between patients, etc.). You may also be required to fill out all paperwork at home, so be sure to confirm these details with the doctor’s office ahead of time.
If this is your child’s first eye exam, your eye doctor will go over your child’s medical history and family medical history and perform a comprehensive eye exam and vision evaluation.
If your child needs glasses, that’s where we come in.
Wearing glasses can be scary, but we’re here to make it fun with colorful and stylish frames for children of all ages. Look at it like an opportunity to let your kiddo’s personality shine. After all, the most important thing is making sure your little one is getting the proper eye care they need to succeed! (P.S. our friendly Eye Doctor Locator service can help with that).