child eyesight vision testWhy should I get my kid’s eyesight tested?

Good vision is essential for proper physical development and educational progress in growing children.  Eyesight in the young child is not fully mature. Equal input from both eyes is required for proper development of the visual centers in the brain. If a growing child’s eye does not provide a clear focused image to the developing brain, then permanent irreversible loss of vision may result.

Eyesight tests and vision assessment are vital for the detection of conditions that result in blindness, signify serious systemic disease, lead to problems with school performance, or at worst, threaten the child’s life. Through careful evaluation of the ocular system, retinal abnormalities, cataracts, glaucoma, retinoblastoma, strabismus, and neurological disorders can be identified, and prompt treatment of these conditions can save a child’s vision or even life.

Children at risk for eye problems (e.g., prematurity, family history of congenital cataracts, retinoblastoma, metabolic or genetic diseases,) demonstrate a much higher incidence of vision defects. It is important that this population be included in vision screening programs so learning problems are not compounded.

Color vision problems are usually hereditary. The early detection of color vision problems is important because many toddler, preschool and elementary school games, activities, educational supplies and tasks are color oriented. Color vision problems are not a disease and are not treatable. However, it is important to provide information on color discrimination problems to parents and teachers.

Vision problems generally are not the direct cause of learning disorders; however, they can interfere with children’s abilities to perform to their potential.

Because children do not complain of visual difficulties, visual acuity measurement (vision screening)plays an important role in identifying potential vision problems and in promoting eye health as early as possible.

Signs and Symptoms That My Child is Having Vision  Problems

Average  Eye Development:

  • 0-1 month – baby turns to light and shows steady fixation and eyes widen and stop when interested in visual stimulus.
  • 2-3 months – baby reaches for objects.
  • 3-5 months – baby smiles back or mimic other facial expressions, exams objects.
  • 6-12 months –  follows moving object.. By a year old, near and distant acuities are good, can focus and has developed  depth perception. Can scribble with a crayon and are shows interest in pictures.
  • By 2 years –  Optic nerve development is completed. Visual  skills are smooth and co-ordinated and acuity is now normal.
  • By 3 years – retinal tissue maturity is almost complete; development is slower  until complete in four or five years.

Vision testing is usually done at pre-school age, 3 to 4 years.

Most Common Eye Problems:

  • Neonatal conditions – eg, retinopathy of prematurity, retinoblastoma, cataracts.
  • Risk factors for amblyopia (crossed eyed) –  identification of amblyopia in the preschool age combined with with good treatment usually has very good results. But is not identified  after age b 7 or 8 years of age,  the  decrease in cortical plasticity limits  treatment outcomes.
  • Refractive errors – anisometropia (different vision  between the two eyes) is the most common cause of non-strabismic amblyopia and usually develops between 2 and 4 years of age.
  • Colour vision abnormalities – color blindness is often not found until  later but there is  evidence that this affects learning and it excludes individuals from certain jobs (eg, electrician, train driver).

Sources:

American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Vision Screening for Infants and Children Policy,” .

American Academy of Pediatrics, “Policy Statement”, Vol. 111, Number 4,

American Optometric Association, Clinical Practice Guidelines, “Pediatric Eye and Vision Examinations,”

Jarvis, Physical Exam and Health Assessment, 2nd ed., W.B. Sanders, Philadelphia, PA.,

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