Many people consider eye exams to be reserved for adults and kids who are old enough to know how to read. However, this simply isn’t true. In fact, it’s important that your children regularly visit an optometrist in the years leading up to starting school. Since 80% of learning before the age of 12 is done visually, ensuring your child’s eyesight is good will put them on the path to success.
When should my child have their first eye exam?
Most parents are surprised to find out that pediatric eye exams can and should be performed on babies and young children. In fact, most optometrists in Calgary suggest that children have their eyes checked for the first time when they’re six months old. By this age, babies should be able to see as well as adults, in terms of focus and colour vision.
At a baby’s first eye exam, an optometrist will check to make sure his or her eyes are developing normally. If something is amiss, advice and treatment options will be provided.
What can be detected at an early eye exam?
In addition to screening for standard vision problems, pediatric eye exams are performed to check for these issues:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye). This condition is characterized by having one eye that doesn’t have normal vision. With early intervention, the problem can often be completely resolved. If ignored, the vision loss can worsen and even lead to blindness.
- Strabismus (crossed eyes). This eye issue is identified when the child’s two eyes aren’t aligned properly, usually as a result of a problem with the eye muscles. Without intervention, the brain will eventually disregard the image from one eye in an attempt to avoid double vision.
- Improper eye co-ordination. This condition is identified when the eyes don’t work together when focusing on close objects.
How do you perform eye exams on young children? The charts full of letters that you’re used to aren’t the only way to check a person’s eyes. To make sure your baby’s eyes are developing normally, your eye doctor will use special tools to test the following things.
- Pupil response in the presence or absence of light
- Whether your baby can fixate on and follow an object (like a light or toy) with their eyes
- Vision capabilities, using cards that are blank on one side and have stripes on the other to attract the baby’s eyes to the stripes