Hindsight is 20/20 and we’d like your child’s vision to be the same.

Optometrists play a vital role in the health of you and your family. Accessing and correcting issues with vision, we often diagnose an array of medical issues. For children who are still developing, assessing and maintaining eye health is critically important. Catching possible problems early in development can make a huge difference in your child’s life, and long-term vision and health.

How poor vision can negatively impact your child

Vision is arguably the most important of the five senses. It plays a crucial role throughout childhood and beyond. Seeing clearly directly impacts a child’s ability to focus, learn and to retain information throughout their education. Your child is developing and learning about their world, and according to experts, up to 80% of learning is visual. Their vision impacts their success. Ensuring your child can see clearly ensures they can reach their full potential in school and in life.

At what age should my child have their first eye exam?

From infancy there are important milestones in your child’s vision development. During the first several months of life, a baby can focus only on objects up close seeing objects in high contrast colors only, such as black, white and red. By 6 months of age, your child’s visual acuity should be much sharper, with more accurate color vision and better eye movement and hand-eye coordination skills. This is why most eye care specialists recommend eye exams from 6 months of age to determine if your child’s eyes are functioning properly and working together as a team and their vision is developing properly. After that we recommend at the very least that you book another exam by aged 3 and again at 5 or before school begins. School-aged children should have an eye exam at least every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually. In Ontario eye examinations are covered under OHIP until your child turns 20 years old. This makes seeing a Toronto optometrist more accessible for all Ontario children and enables earlier diagnosis and treatment if necessary.

Scheduling your child’s eye exam

When scheduling an eye exam for your child, choose a time when he or she usually is alert and happy. Avoid naptimes or mealtimes and choose the time of day when it will be easy for him/her to cooperate. Having a good experience will make the next visit even easier.

What does a children’s eye exam include?

Specifics depend on your child’s age, but generally an exam will include a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health evaluation and, if needed, prescription of eyewear.

Tests may include:

Retinoscopy- shining a light into the eye to observe the reflection from the back of the eye (retina). This test helps determine of you child has any clouding of the lens of the eye (congenital cataract) or significant refractive error (how the light is refracted in the eye)

Random dot stereopsis testing– uses special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses to measure how well your child’s eyes work together as a team.

 

The more we know…

Getting background information helps us evaluate your child. Please share any relevant information with us about your child’s vision and your family history.

Let us know if there is:

  • A history of prematurity
  • Delayed motor development
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Excessive blinking
  • Failure to maintain eye contact
  • Poor eye tracking skills
  • Previous eye or vision problems
  • Previous eyeglass wear, surgeries or contact lens use
  • Family history of refractive errors, strabismus, amblyopia or eye diseases.

 

If your child has failed a vision screening at school or at a doctor’s visit please let us know that as well. The more information we have, the more accurately we can assess your child.

My child can’t read how will they be evaluated?

An eye exam is more than reading letters off of an eye chart. LEA symbols for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, only they use symbols such as an apple, house, square and circle. This may also be used for kids who have trouble verbalizing. For infants the following tests are used:

  • Pupil responses- evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
  • “Fixate and follow” testing- determines whether your baby’s eyes are able to fixate on and follow an object such as a light as it moves. (Infants should be able to fixate on an object soon after birth and follow an object by the time they are 3 months old.)
  • Preferential looking- using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes.
What if my child doesn’t have vision problems- do they still need an eye exam?

YES! Appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school and some problems are able to be corrected if caught early. A child who is unable to see print or view a blackboard can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance. Often problems aren’t realized until a child is having problems at school. If your child has always seen unclearly they may not even complain about not seeing well as it is “normal” for them.

Why is it important to have regular eye exams?

Regular eye exams are even more critical for children as visual skills are essential for learning and some vision issues can be corrected permanently if treated and modified at an earlier age. While your child is still growing and developing it is easier to correct vision. School aged children and older have most likely completed their vision development so if issues arise that require correction beyond eyewear, the chances of successfully doing so are reduced. Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected as early as possible while the child’s vision is still developing.
The following visual skills are essential for optimal learning:

  • Excellent visual acuity at all distances
  • Accurate and comfortable eye teaming skills
  • Accurate eye movement skills
  • Accurate and comfortable focusing skills

In addition to nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, an eye exam will look for common vision problems of school children such as:

  • Lazy eye (amblyopia)- decreased vision in one or both eyes without detectable anatomic damage. Amblyopia is not always correctable with eyeglasses or contact lenses and may require eye patching to strengthen the weaker eye.
  • Misalignment of eyes (strabismus)- Crossed or misaligned eyes (strabismus) can have different causes, such as problems with muscle control in the affected eye or eyes. Strabismus is a common cause of amblyopia and should be treated early in childhood so vision and eye teaming skills can develop normally.
  • Convergence insufficiency- the inability to maintain eye alignment when viewing near objects. This can cause eye discomfort and even double vision when reading.
  • Focusing problems, poor depth perception and color blindness.
  • Eye health problems- abnormal or infected eyelash follicles, bumps, eye discharge and swelling as well as cloudiness (opacities) or other irregularities in the cornea or iris.

We look forward to helping your child see the world as clearly as possible.

Book your child’s comprehensive eye exam today! If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s vision please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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