Top Reasons to Get An Eye Exam

08/05/2011

Eye-exam Hi Discovery Family. In recognition of Children's Eye Health and Safety month, I wanted to give a big “shout-out” to an optometrist who helped me while I was a little fellow. Needless to say, that intervention has paid dividends during my adult years.

 When I was four years of age, my parents noticed that one of my eyes seemed to "drift” to the side when I was looking at them. I didn’t notice anything because I was able to play with friends, watch tv, read and enjoy the sights of each day. In other words, everything seemed “normal” to me. Even so, my parents were concerned and brought me to an eye specialist.

 It turned out I had amblyopia, or what is commonly known as a “lazy eye”. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it could have led to poor or impaired vision in the affected eye. Fortunately, with the help of the optometrist, vision therapy (temporary eye patch) and eye exercises to help the eye muscles, the eyes worked together and I am very grateful.

 

WARNING SIGNS OF A POTENTIAL VISION PROBLEM

 Parents may not know there is a vision problem by just looking at their child’s eyes, and the child may not realize they have a vision problem because they don’t know what “better” eyesight or “normal” vision is supposed to be like. However, there are clues that something may be wrong and if these appear, it is best to visit their physician.

 Look for:

  • Inability of your 3 or 4 month old to “track” for following a moving ball or toy with their eyes as it moves across their field of vision
  • Crossed eyes or one eye moving away from the other, especially after 6 months of age. Parents often state they “don’t know which eye to look at” because they are not staring back in the same direction
  • Red eyes or discharge coming from their eyes
  • Constant or frequent eye-rubbing by your child
  • Bulging eyes
  • Constant or frequent eye tearing
  • Discoloration of the pupil (should be black)
  • Inability to see read the blackboard (always needing to sit in front row)
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty reading
  • Difficulty seeing objects at a distance
  • Needing to place a finger on a line they were reading to keep track of the next word or sentence

 Lastly, your child’s headaches and reluctance to read or write may be a clue that they are having trouble with their vision.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF AN EYE EXAMINATION FOR YOUR CHILD

Speaking from personal experience, it is very important for your baby and child to have regular eye checks by their physician. That said, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

  • Newborn: prior to discharge from the hospital your babies eyes should be checked for any signs of defects, cataracts, infection or glaucoma.
  • By six months of age: your child’s pediatrician or family physician would check that your babies eyes are aligned (both working together and looking the same way) and that there are no signs of infection or other impairments to eye health (cataracts, etc)
  • At three to four years of age: check for vision abnormalities. This can be completed by your child’s physician, or by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist with special training in pediatrics.
  • Prior to kindergarten, all children age five and above should have their vision checked separately in each eye.

 Please know the above schedule is a general one and may be modified based upon your child’s eye health. Here’s to good health and clear vision to all!

 

More on Eye Health:

Eating for Eye Health

Dry Eye Syndrome

Treating Eye Strain with Aromatherapy

 

Photo Source: Thinkstock/Goodshoot


Dr. Rob believes in preventative and integrative approaches to medicine. He specializes in family medicine as well as children's health and wellness.
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