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Annual visits to pediatricians are important to keeping children healthy and ensuring proper childhood development. But what most parents don’t realize is that annual eye exams are equally as important. Our eyes also need to be examined for proper development, as well as for early detection of possible vision issues that could impair eyesight for life.
“I’ve been examining children’s eyes for more than 27 years,” says optometrist Nick Brattis, “and I’ve seen many times where diagnosing and treating an eye disorder early in life meant a positive outcome for the child.”
When is the First Eye Exam Needed?
During infancy, a child’s vision is constantly changing. In the earliest months of their lives, babies can only focus on close-up objects, and they see only high contrast colors, such as black, white, and red. At six months of age, however, visual acuity sharpens. It is at this point that babies should have their vision examined by an eye doctor to ensure that their eyes perform as a team, working together. If not, one or both eyes may be affected and that could lead to a lifetime of poor vision.
From this point on during childhood development, eye exams should become an annual ritual, just like annual check-ups at the pediatrician’s office.
What Can Be Detected in an Eye Exam?
Children’s eye exams can identify nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, conditions that can be easily remedied with prescription glasses. But an eye exam can also detect amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus. Strabismus is condition in which the eyes don’t look in unison at the same object. Strabismus is a physical disorder; amblyopia is the visual consequence. Amblyopia and strabismus are most effectively treated when detected early. Treatment includes visual therapy and, often, surgery. Left undetected or untreated, blurry or double-vision may be a lasting result.
Be sure to take your children for annual exams. Healthy vision is essential to a child’s ability to learn and achieve their academic potential, as well to play sports and other activities.