Next to Christmas the summer holidays are a very exciting time in a child's life. The end of the school year marks the beginning of two months of no school books! Parents are usually busy planning summer camps and family vacations. It is also a perfect time to have your children's eyes examined by an optometrist in preparation for the beginning of the school year in September. By the age of three all children should have a thorough eye examination. In fact most optometrists prefer to see children by twelve months of age for their first eye exam. At annual eye check ups your optometrist can detect the presence of any eye disease and monitor the function and growth of the visual system. Two particular conditions that are of concern at a young age include eye muscle problems such as "crossed-eyes" (strabismus) and "lazy eye" (amblyopia). Fortunately these two conditions can be treated if they are detected early enough.
Some of the basic visual skills optometrists can examine for include
- the ability to see at all distances
- eye coordination skills
- focusing capabilities
- peripheral vision
- colour vision
- eye movement skills.
Don't be fooled that your child's vision is normal. They tend to rarely complain of vision problems if they are even aware of them at all. Be alert for signs and symptoms that your child may be struggling with their vision. These may include performing below their potential in school losing their place while reading holding their reading material closer than usual frequent headaches has itchy red or watery eyes or tends to favour one eye over the other. The observations of a teacher can be an invaluable tool in detecting a deficiency in a child's visual function.
As your child develops so do their eyes. The spectacle prescription of a child typically changes more rapidly than that of an adult. With each increase in the school year the visual demands of children also become greater. There becomes a requirement to process more and more information to further their learning. Therefore an assessment of your children's visual system is crucial.
With the popularity of computers nowadays it is important to encourage your child to take frequent breaks from the computer monitor. Continuous computer use can produce significant eye strain. Ensure that the room they work in has soft ambient lighting with reduced glare sources.
Your children deserve to have the proper visual skills to learn read play. The only way to ensure visual needs are fulfilled is to have your children visit their optometrist on an annual basis.