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Keep an Eye on Your Child's Eye Health

Keep an Eye on Your Child's Eye Health

Your child’s eye health is just as important as every other part of him. Some eye conditions are treatable while young, but irreversible once a child reaches his teen years.

Only 2 percent of parents would wait for symptoms before taking their child to the pediatrician or dentist for the first time. Yet 24% of parents expect their child to have symptoms before visiting an eye doctor.

One in four children has an eye problem that can interfere with learning and behavior. Sixty percent of students identified as “problem learners” have undetected vision problems. That’s why it’s important to get regular eye exams for your children even if they don’t complain about things looking fuzzy. If your child plays sports, you have even more reason to get regular checkups.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Let’s take a look at all things eyes.

The First Eye Exam

The First Eye Exam

Your child’s first eye exam will take place at the pediatrician’s office, unless your doctor refers your child to an ophthalmologist. The first exam will take place as an infant, with a recheck sometime between six months and 1 year old. Your pediatrician will again check your child’s eyes around age 3, examining vision and eye alignment.

Later Exams
Once your child is old enough to read an eye chart, he should be tested to make sure he can focus at far, middle and near distances. Most of the time, children are slightly farsighted, but will not require glasses. Once a child starts school, he should be screened every two years by a pediatrician, school nurse, or ophthalmologist. A screening is a basic check, and many schools perform these tests each year. If your child shows any eye trouble, he will be referred to an ophthalmologist for a full vision exam. If your child requires vision correction, he will need an annual eye exam.

Signs Your Child Has Vision Problems
Watch your child’s eyes as she focuses to make sure they align normally. If they turn inward or if your child appears to have a lazy eye (amblyopia), make an appointment with an eye doctor. Such problems are more easily corrected if they are addressed early.

Some children don’t realize they are having eye trouble. Watch for squinting, headaches, or complaints. Some less obvious signs include:

If you wear glasses or contacts, your child has a greater chance of requiring vision correction.

Common Childhood Eye Conditions and Diseases
While vision is an important part of how a child learns, the eyes have other problems that may appear during childhood. Here are some of the more common conditions that require an ophthalmologist exam:

There are also diseases that may affect the eye. If you notice any of these, contact your pediatrician first and he or she will decide whether further eye care is needed.

Sports Protection
Different sports require different types of eye protection. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has set standards for each of these, and the equipment you need will be labeled ASTM followed by a combination of numbers and letters such as F803. Here is the list, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

Other Eye Notes
You can prevent many other eye problems and injuries. Here are a few final tips for keeping your child’s eyes safe.

If you have questions about your child’s eyes or vision, contact your Generations Family Practice pediatrician today.

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