The Best Possible Care
There are optometrists with particular expertise in kids’ vision, not just how the eyes focus. Optometrists at our practice have developed skills, knowledge and training in children’s vision and in particular Behavioural Optometry and vision therapy.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmology recommends that children should have eye examinations:
As soon as possible if there is a family history of vision problems such as eye turn, lazy eye, or high degrees of long or shortsightedness.
At age 3 onwards to ensure there are no signs of a lazy or turned eye, or high degrees of long or shortsightedness.
Between 3 and 5 years if significant difficulty reading is found, then regularly.
When they start school if their progress is significantly slower than expected, to check for vision problems which could be interfering in learning to read or using their eyes to read and write.
About Kids Vision
As younger children grow, they learn to use their vision. Initially kids have to think and plan appropriate visual responses, but over time the brain develops pathways for action and thinking which allows the mind to get on with more interesting things.
These pathways help the child to understand and learn about the world and the environment in which he or she lives.
When a child is experiencing school difficulties, your optometrist will carefully check the visual pathways that can support behaviour and learning.
Importance of Eye Tests
30% of children may have undetected vision problems that can significantly affect learning.
Leading authorities recommend that children have regular eye examinations through early childhood and before they start school. It is important for children to have a complete eye examination before starting school. The optometrist needs to determine if a child’s vision system is adequately prepared to handle reading, writing and other close work.
The demands of schoolwork can put too much stress on a child’s visual system, causing problems even if none existed before. Whereas toddlers use their eyes mostly for looking at distance, school requires children’s eyes to focus on very close, small work for hours every day. This can cause vision problems to arise.
Checking Your Child’s Vision
You should always get your child’s eyes checked thoroughly by an experienced and qualified professional who is trained and has the extended knowledge to fully assess your child. Not just focus, but other important aspects of vision such as binocular function and visual information processing.
Vanessa is a Member of the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists. Optometrists who are Members of the College hold a special interest in the broader nature of vision and brain function and have undertaken advanced training in the assessment and treatment of children’s vision problems.
Vision Check List
Children don’t often realize that their eyes are under too much strain, and they rarely report vision problems. Because their vision is “normal” to them, they think everyone sees the way they do.
You can download a simple check list to see if there might be an issue with your child’s vision. This is not a comprehensive test and is only an indication. Always get a complete eye test from a vision professional like a behavioural optometrist.