The first eye exam a person receives should be between 6 months to 1 year of age. There are many health and vision conditions that could result in a child’s visual system not developing properly. If someone is born into a blurry world, they don’t realize how much clearer things could be unless someone shows them the difference. In fact, if a child grows up not seeing to their full potential they could have permanently decreased vision and depth perception problems. That is why our doctors at Highlands Optometry have joined with the InfantSEE program, which provides a comprehensive eye health and vision exam for your infant 6 months to 1 year old completely free of charge!
Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”, develops in infancy through early childhood, and it typically starts when the focus in one eye is more enhanced than the other. The eye with less focus might be impaired due to a significant amount of farsightedness or astigmatism, or something could be obstructing light from getting through like a cataract or debris in the back of the eye. Amblyopia may also develop due to an ocular misalignment known as strabismus.
If you notice your child has one eye that turns in or out, up or down, in comparison to the other eye, they might have strabismus. This is an ocular alignment problem and can cause double vision. If left untreated, the deviated eye will not develop proper communication with the brain and can lead to amblyopia as mentioned above.
Simply put, accommodative dysfunction means that the eyes have difficulty focusing properly. Studies suggest that between 2 and 17% of children may suffer from accommodative dysfunction. The nature of this disorder means that it sometimes goes unnoticed in standard vision screenings conducted at school. Thus, it is important that parents schedule a comprehensive eye exam for children, particularly if an issue with focusing is suspected.
Convergence insufficiency is a relatively common eye condition that is typically diagnosed in childhood. A study of two large optometry clinics found that 17.6% of children who received vision exams had convergence insufficiency. As this disorder may cause difficulty focusing on written pages, some children with convergence insufficiency are actually diagnosed with learning disability rather than a vision problem.
These are the more common childhood vision problems, but there are many more! Making sure your child’s eyes are working properly is essential for a happy and successful life!