Your Child’s Eyes

Did you know that 1 out of every 4 children suffers from vision problems that interfere with learning?

A school or pediatrician’s vision screening is not a substitute for a thorough eye examination. Children with uncorrected vision conditions or eye health problems face many barriers in life including academic, social, and athletic. High-quality eye care can help enable your children to reach their highest potential!

As a parent, make sure that you are giving your children the eye care they need.

Infant Vision

Your baby has a whole lifetime to see and learn. But did you know that your baby also has to learn to see? As a parent, there are many things you can do to help your baby’s vision develop.

With most babies, first eye exams should be performed at six months old. Complete Eye Care doctors will test for excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, lack of eye movement ability, as well as other eye health problems. These problems are not common, but it is important to identify children who have them at this stage. Vision development and eye health problems can be more easily corrected if treatment is started early.

Unless you notice a need or are advised otherwise, your child’s next eye exam is typically performed around age three, and then again before starting school.

During these early months, your baby’s eyes should begin to follow moving objects. He or she will begin to reach for things, first by chance and then with increasing accuracy, as hand-eye coordination and depth perception develop.
Your baby should begin to turn from side to side and use his or her arms and legs. Eye movement and eye/body coordination skills should continue to develop and both eyes should focus equally. We encourage you to help your baby explore different shapes and textures with his or her fingers. You should give your baby some freedom to crawl and explore. “Patty cake” and “peek-a-boo” are great developmental games to play with your baby.
Your baby should become mobile – crawling and pulling up. Both of your baby’s eyes should be working together to judge distances and grasp and throw objects with greater precision. Crawling plays an important role in developing eye-hand-foot-body coordination. We recommend safe stacking and take-apart toys and objects your baby can touch, hold and see at the same time.
Your child’s eye-hand coordination and depth perception will continue to develop and he or she will begin to understand abstract terms. You should encourage walking, as well as provide building blocks, simple puzzles and balls. We urge you to provide safe opportunities to climb and explore indoors and out.
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Pre-School Vision

During the infant and toddler years, your child has been developing many vision skills and has been learning how to see. In the preschool years, this process continues, as your child develops visually guided eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills, and the visual motor skills necessary to learn to read.

Complete Eye Care recommends that you watch for signs that may indicate a vision development problem. This could include a short attention span (for the child’s age), difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination in activities such as ball play or bike riding, or avoiding detail oriented activities such as coloring and puzzles.

There are everyday things that you can do to help your preschooler’s vision develop as it should. Read aloud to your child and let him or her see what you are reading. Provide a chalkboard, finger paints and different shaped blocks and show your child how to use them in imaginative play. Also, create opportunities for interaction with other children as well as independent play.

With most children, the first thorough optometric eye examination is performed by age three to make sure your preschooler’s vision is developing properly and there is no evidence of eye disease. If needed, we can prescribe treatment including glasses and/or vision therapy to correct a vision development problem.

Here are several tips to prepare for your child’s exam at Complete Eye Care:

  • Make an appointment early in the day. Allow for about one hour.
  • Talk about the examination in advance and encourage your child’s questions.
  • Explain the examination in your child’s terms, comparing the E chart to a puzzle and the instruments to tiny flashlights and a kaleidoscope.

Unless recommended otherwise, your child’s next eye examination should be at age five. By comparing test results of the two examinations, our doctors can tell how well your child’s vision is developing.

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School-Age Vision

A good education for your child means good schools, good teachers and good vision. Your child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. So when his or her vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will suffer.

The basic vision skills needed for school use are:

  • Near vision. The ability to see clearly and comfortably at 10-13 inches.
  • Distance vsion. The ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm’s reach.
  • Binocular coordination. The ability to use both eyes together.
  • Eye movement skills. The ability to aim the eyes accurately, move them smoothly across a page and shift them quickly and accurately from one object to another.
  • Focusing skills. The ability to keep both eyes accurately focused at the proper distance to see clearly and to change focus quickly.
  • Peripheral awareness. The ability to be aware of things located to the side while looking straight ahead.
  • Eye/hand coordination. The ability to use both eyes and hands together.
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If any of these or other vision skills are lacking or do not function properly, your child will have to work harder. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, and other eye strain problems. As a parent, be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem. Be sure to tell your optometrist if your child frequently:

  • Loses their place while reading.
  • Avoids close work.
  • Holds reading material closer than normal.
  • Tends to rub his eyes.
  • Has headaches.
  • Turns or tilts head to use one eye only.
  • Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing.
  • Uses finger to maintain place when reading.
  • Omits or confuses small words when reading.
  • Consistently performs below potential.

Since vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the optometrist every year, or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. If needed, our doctors can prescribe treatment including glasses, contact lenses, or vision therapy.

Please remember, a school vision or pediatrician’s screening is not a substitute for a thorough eye examination.

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The eBook Howard and the Amazing Eye Exam is a fun way to prepare your child for their eye exam! Click a format to start your download:

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Protective Eyewear

The American Optometric Association’s Sports Vision Section and Safe Kids Worldwide strongly recommend the use of protective eyewear for most sports. Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat more than 40,000 sports-related eye injuries. More than one-third of the victims are children.

In fact, sports represent the number one cause of eye injuries in children under the age of sixteen. The sports with the highest risk — for which eye protection is available — include basketball, baseball, hockey, football, lacrosse, fencing, paintball, water polo, racquetball, soccer and downhill skiing. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of these injuries could be prevented simply by wearing proper helmets or goggles.

Did you know that extended exposure to the same harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that affect skin can also harm your eyes? Whether you are playing softball or beach volleyball in July, or skiing and snowboarding in January, your eyes are exposed to the sun’s rays. While most sunglasses can help block UV rays from entering through the lenses, most frame styles do not prevent rays from reaching the eyes from the sides, top, and bottom of the glasses. For those who need vision correction, the greatest measure of UV protection can be achieved with a combination of UV-absorbing sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking contact lenses.

Children and Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are a good option for many children, including those who are self-conscious of wearing glasses or are involved in sports. The important thing for parents and their children who wear contact lenses to remember is that contacts are prescribed medical devices. Contact lenses are not a cosmetic accessory. While the wearer may be happy about his or her new look, it is extremely important that the lenses be properly cleaned and worn according to the instructions of the optometrist.