Pediatric Eye Care
Babies and young children have visual systems that are not fully developed. Equal input from both eyes is necessary for normal development of the brain’s vision centers. If a young child’s eyes do not send clear images to the brain, vision may become limited in ways that cannot be corrected later in life.
Many eye diseases and disorders are unique to children. Some disorders, such as an eye turn, can easily be seen by a parent or caregiver. There are many others that are “hidden” and cannot be as easily seen. Some of these can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated early. Often, a child will not know or understand that what he/she is seeing or experiencing is abnormal.
10 Signs Your Child May Have a Vision Problem as noted in Pediatric Optometry by Geller, M.
Head tilt – if your child has a problem with their ocular muscles or nerves he/she will attempt to compensate by tilting his/her head.
Sitting too close to the TV – if your child is nearsighted, he/she will attempt to compensate for this by moving closer to the TV or other reading materials.
Avoidance of reading – if your child has poor visual skills and eye teaming skills he/she will compensate for this by avoiding reading. Reading uses many complex eye movements and poor visual skills may cause your child to become frustrated.
Frequent headaches – headaches may result when your child is strained by using more energy to align, focus and use their eyes.
Laterality problem – if your child has poor directional skills and often confuses left and right, it could be due to poor vision. Proper oculocentric location is dependent on vision and laterality depends, in part, upon oculocentric location.
Finger pointing – if your child has poor vision tracking skills he/she may his/her finger to compensate for their poor tracking ability.
Can’t copy from the Board – your child may have difficulty with accommodation, the ability to change focus between far and near. This is essential for success in school.
Squinting – squinting is used to narrow a bundle of light entering the eye which allows for sharper vision. Your child may be squinting because this act compensates for blurry vision.
Poor hand/eye coordination – this skill is required for everything from writing notes in class to playing ball with friends. Clear vision and adequate visual skills is required to create an accurate link between vision and other body movements.
Eye rubbing/squinting – rubbing one’s eyes is a basic response to ocular discomfort. It typically occurs when the eyes are strained or have been working too hard to complete a task. Squinting is used to narrow a bundle of light entering the eye which allows for sharper vision. Your child may be squinting because this act compensates for blurry vision.
Early comprehensive dilated eye examinations reveal problems that may be affecting a child’s physical development, school success, and general well-being. Detection of these issues leads to timely and effective treatment to ensure proper development of the eye and brain.
Dr. Nahrain Shasteen is a fellowship-trained pediatric optometrist who specializes in child examinations. She has extensive training and a special interest in vision therapy.
The American Optometric Association recommends the following for childhood vision exams:
Birth-24 months: 1 exam, usually around 6 months of age.
2-5 years: 1 exam, usually around 3 years of age.
6-18 years: Prior to first grade, a comprehensive exam, then 1-2 years as recommended by your eye doctor.