Many kids participate in vision screenings while at school. A school vision test can determine if your child is likely to have vision problems, but it's not designed to provide a full assessment of your child's eye health.
Regular vision assessments with an optometrist are highly encouraged – and at Sarrell Dental and Eye, you can experience the convenience of having your child’s eye and dental appointment during the same visit!
Here we cover the top 3 eye problems in kids and how to help your child have a lifetime of healthy eyesight.
1. Blurred Vision (Refractive Errors)
Blurry vision may be caused by:
- Farsightedness (blurry nearby objects)
- Nearsightedness (blurry distant objects)
- Astigmatism (blurry vision at all distances)
A child's blurred vision is often corrected with prescription eyewear.
2. Crossed Eyes (Strabismus)
Strabismus, or crossed eyes, is a condition where the eyes are not aligned. This means that the child's eyes aren't working as a team to clearly view an object. One eye may look inward or outward, or upward or downward.
Some children are born with strabismus. This is referred to as "congenital strabismus". If a child has strabismus, they may have a problem controlling their eye muscles.
To treat crossed eyes, a pediatric optometrist may begin treatment with prescription eyeglasses or with an eye patch. The eye patch will force the use of the misaligned eye until the child can see normally. If your child is diagnosed with crossed eyes, it's important to get the problem eye corrected before your child reaches 8 years of age.
3. Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
With amblyopia or Lazy Eye, one eye is out of focus or misaligned and vision doesn’t develop the way it should. If left untreated, the child's brain will learn to ignore the image coming from the weaker eye. Over time, this can cause permanent vision problems.
Amblyopia generally develops from birth up to age 7 years. Treating the condition early or before the child reaches the age of 7 offers the best chance of successful treatment.
If your child has Lazy Eye, your pediatric optometrist may recommend an eye patch or medicated eye drops. Wearing a patch over the strong eye will force the brain to use the weaker eye, helping to correct the condition.
How can I help my child have clear, healthy eyesight?
As a newborn, your child should receive an eye assessment while visiting a pediatrician.
A first eye exam is recommended at one year to evaluate development.
All children aged 3 and older should receive a complete eye exam once every one to two years. And, again at age 5 or 6 (before they start kindergarten).
Kids should visit their eye doctor every two years after the age of 6 or more frequently as advised by the pediatric optometrist.
During the exam, the optometrist will check your child's vision, examine their eyes, and check for vision problems.
In between eye exams, parents should watch for signs of vision problems, including:
- Change in the appearance of one or both eyes
- Eye redness or swelling
- Eye rubbing
- Eyes not aligning
- Frequent blinking or squinting
- Headache complaints
- Holding a hand over one eye
- Holding a book close to the face
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Tilting the head to one side
If you believe your child has a vision problem, make an appointment with a pediatric optometrist soon.