It’s back to school time! With the rush and excitement, it’s easy to forget to get those eyes checked. Children should ideally have their vision tested by or before 6 months of age. Most states have adopted laws that require a child to have a comprehensive eye exam before starting preschool or first grade. Early visual development for children is essential. The eye and the brain have to “form a relationship” in the first 8-10 years of a child’s life. If the vision of one eye is weak, the brain can choose to ignore the blurry image from the weak eye and focus on the strong eye. This condition is typically called “lazy eye” (strabismus) and noted by a turning or crossing of the eyes. If untreated, the condition can worsen and the child can become amblyopic or experience permanent vision loss.
Amblyopia is a vision development disorder in which an eye fails to achieve normal visual acuity, even with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Amblyopia does not mean a blind eye. With treatment, many children achieve very successful vision.
Early detection and treatment can help correct this vision disparity and prevent loss of vision. An eye doctor will typically prescribe glasses that help the weak eye focus and in some cases, patching of the strong eye is required to train the weak eye to focus. Strictly following the doctor’s plan of wearing glasses and/or patching will greatly increase the chances of the child gaining normal vision. Without treatment and after ages 8-10, there is little that can be done to correct the permanent vision loss of the weak eye. However, eye muscle surgery can be performed to cosmetically correct the crossing or turning of the eye.
Other highly important factors promoting annual eye exams for children are their ability to learn in school, play and/or perform well in sports. Poor visually equity will greatly reduce a child’s ability to learn and pay attention.
- Nearly 25 percent of school-age children have vision problems.
- Nationally, about 86 percent of children entering first grade do not receive an eye exam.
- About 60 percent of students identified as problem learners have undetected vision problems.
At See NC Eyecare in Raleigh, NC our eye doctors specialize in comprehensive eye exams for children and the early detection and treatment of these conditions. We accept most major insurances and vision plans and we even offer special discounts for people with no vision coverage.
Have your child’s vision checked annually to ensure they can see and function to the best of their ability for the rest of their life!
Billy B. Baty, LDO