Since a child is born, he or she develops and learns about the world around them through their sense of sight. A good vision is key to a child’s development. Reading, writing and using a computer are among the visual tasks that children perform daily. As learning in the classroom is mainly visual, if your child is having difficulty seeing clearly, his or her learning can be adversely affected. As parents, you must ensure that your child’s eyes are healthy by getting them checked at certain development stages. An eye examination is recommended as early as when your child is 6 months old.
As a leading eye hospital in West Bengal, we share with you a useful guide that will help you ensure that your child’s eyes are developing normally:
- First test at 6 months: An infant’s visual system starts developing over the first few months of life. Crucial milestones such as crawling, hand-eye coordination and walking are all dependent on the development of eyesight. Infants should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. At this stage, the eye specialist will check whether the eyes are developing at the right pace or not. The doctor may also check the eyes for paediatric eye conditions such as strabismus, farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. If an infant is born premature or showing signs of developmental delay, more frequent visits to an eye hospital are required.
- Preschool to 5 years: As toddlers are about to start preschool, they learn to colour, draw, cut paper and play games. Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are essential for them to read, write and take part in several activities. Schedule an eye test when your child is about to start preschool. If you notice your child rubbing his or her eyes too much, squinting or sitting very close to the TV, you should see an eye doctor immediately. An eye doctor may recommend a series of tests such as a visual acuity test, colour vision test and ocular exam to check how well your child sees objects both near and distant.
- Age 6 to 18: Poor vision can cause children and teens to suffer academically, socially and personally. If your child is having trouble in school or in other activities, get his or her eyes checked as there could be an underlying vision problem. Children who find it difficult to read or coordinate their hands and eyes may exhibit behavioural problems out of frustration. They may be facing problems in seeing things properly but may not know how to express themselves. An eye doctor will check near vision, distance vision, binocular vision (ability to use both eyes together for depth perception) and peripheral vision.
Common eye tests for children include
- LEA symbols test: This test is just like regular eye tests. For children and toddlers, instead of alphabets, there are symbols. This test is one of the most common vision screening tests in preschool and school age.
- Retinoscopy: This test is done to detect refractive errors in children. The test is done by shining a light into the eye and observing the back of the eye. This helps the eye doctor to determine if your child needs eyeglasses or not. The eye prescription is determined by this test.
- Random dot stereopsis: This test is done to measure how well a child’s eyes work together. The test has a high success rate in the preschool age. It can be carried out easily to detect strabismus and amblyopia.
Common eye problems among children
When it comes to vision, children face many problems. Some of them include:
- Eye allergies: Eye allergies can affect everyone, including children. Allergies caused by pet dander, pollen and mold can cause eyes to water or become red.
- Conjunctivitis: Though easily treatable, conjunctivitis is highly contagious.
- Amblyopia or lazy eye: This disorder typically appears during infancy and early childhood. It affects the development of vision and should be treated without any delay. If left untreated, it can cause long-term vision problems.
- Refractive errors: Farsightedness and nearsightedness are very common among toddlers and children. These errors can be corrected with prescribed eyeglasses.
- Strabismus or crossed eyes: This eye condition occurs when the eyes do not work as a team or are misaligned. Early treatment options such as special eyewear or the use of an eye patch can help in correcting the condition.
Signs that your child is struggling with an eye problem
- Delayed motor development
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Not maintaining eye contact
- Misalignment of the eyes
- Not tracking objects
- Short attention span
- Constant blinking
- Avoiding activities that require visual attention
- Tilting the head to one side
- Watching TV closely or reading a book too close
When to see an eye doctor?
During childhood, vision changes frequently. Your child should receive an eye examination every year or more frequently if specific problems have been detected. Most vision problems are treated properly if they are detected and corrected as early as possible. Do inform the eye doctor if you have a family history of eye diseases.
If you are looking for an eye hospital with a dedicated Paediatric Ophthalmology unit, visit Disha Eye Hospitals. We conduct various eye tests for toddlers, pre-school children and verbal children. Our paediatric ophthalmologist & strabismologist are experienced in treating paediatric strabismus, paediatric cataract, amblyopia, allergic disorders (red eye) and paediatric glaucoma.