Vision Plays a Critical Role in Child Development

Vision is critical to a child’s development. Regular eye examinations are necessary to identify any underlying vision problems that may be affecting a child’s physical development, school success, and general well-being.

Infants: Birth – 24 Months
From birth, babies begin to develop visual abilities. Before they can reach or grab with their hands, they are learning to focus their eyes and will eventually use their vision to begin to understand the world around them.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to recognize vision problems in infants and young children. Often, children do not even know they are seeing poorly, making it difficult for parents to recognize the signs or symptoms of vision problems. The American Optometric Association recommends that parents take their children in for their first comprehensive eye exam when they are 6 months old.

Preschool Children: 2-5
Children experience drastic growth in intellectual and motor skills when they are toddlers. Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and perceptual abilities begin to develop and prepare them to read and write as well as participate in sports and other activities. Any issues with vision at this stage can lead to noticeable delays in a child’s development. The American Optometric Association recommends that parents take their children in for their second eye exam around 3 years of age.

School-Aged Children: 6-18
Vision problems that continue to go undetected can lead older children to suffer both academically and socially. Children that have problems with their vision can often struggle with hand-eye coordination and reading and may experience frustration and behavioral problems as a result. At this age range, the American Optometric Association recommends that parents take their children in for exams every 1-2 years, or further recommended by your eye doctor.

The Eye Exam

At the start of every pediatric eye exam, the doctor will review the patient’s history to identify any family history of vision problems. Some eye diseases and disorders are directly linked to family history. The optometrist will also want to review the child’s health history as well as any development or behavioral problems that the parents may have noticed.

In addition to the visual acuity examination, an optometrist will also examine the following visual skills that are required for learning and mobility:

  • Focusing
  • Tracking
  • How the eyes work together
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Color vision
  • Peripheral vision

Dr. Michele Schlagheck is a part of the InfantSEE program that provides no-cost eye examinations to infants between the ages of 6-12 months of age.  Early detection of eye conditions is the best way to ensure a baby has a healthy vision for successful development now and in the future.

To schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist or optometrist please call Vision Associates at 419-578-2020.

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