When Should My Child Start Seeing an Eye Doctor?

About 6.8 percent of children below 18 suffer from some form of eye and vision problem. Sadly, almost three percent of children between zero to 17 years old are blind or have a visual impairment.

People generally develop more eye and vision problems as they age. But that shouldn't keep you from having your child see an eye doctor early on. A healthy vision is crucial in ensuring that your kid develops to their full potential academically and socially. So, when should you bring your little one to an eye doctor?

Preschool Age
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, children between three and five need their vision and eye alignment assessed. This may be done by an optometrist, ophthalmologist, pediatrician, or family doctor. Visual acuity or the sharpness of their vision needs to be screened as soon as your kid is old enough to read an eye chart. The screening process will indicate whether your child has refractive errors, misaligned eyes, lazy eyes, or other vision conditions. 

Vision Development in Childhood

While it's true that a newborn's vision is blurry, their visual system develops over time. Your baby's vision gets stronger every year and becomes fully formed in their teen years. This improved vision is necessary as your kid explores their environment and starts school. During this period, their developing eye learns to do a lot of things better. These include eye focusing, depth perception, tracking, and convergence (eyes moving together).

Milestones to Take into Consideration

As you watch your kid grow, try to observe certain vision development milestones. For instance, at three or four years old, your child will have improved hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and enhanced visual memory. 

Between the age of four and six, your kid will start to recognize letters and objects. Improved convergence will help them read by following the words from left to right across the page. Additionally, when your child's eyes work well together, they will develop their depth perception or ability to see things in three dimensions. This will assist your kid in judging distances between themselves and objects around them. 

Signs of Eye and Vision Problem in Children

Once you observe any of the following manifestations, let your kid's eye doctor know:

  • Eye redness. 

  • Watery eyes.

  • Drooping eyelids.

  • Increased sensitivity to light. 

  • Pus or crust in one or both eyes.

  • Eye pain, itchiness, or discomfort. 

  • Eyes that flutter quickly, either up and down or from side to side.

  • Eye misalignment, such as those eyes that look crossed, turned out, or not focused together. 

These signs will help tell you that your child has an eye or vision condition. Other noticeable symptoms include squinting or holding a reading material very close to their face. But did you know that there are several less evident signs of eye or vision problems in children? Some of the subtle signs of eye or vision problems in children include:

  • Having a short attention span.

  • Turning their head to the side. 

  • Losing track of where they are on the page when reading.

  • Avoiding activities that require up-close focus, such as reading or drawing.

Academic success is closely linked to your child's eye and vision health. For more on pediatric eye care, visit Eastern Virginia Eye Associates in Chesapeake, Virginia. Call 757-607-4800 today to schedule an appointment.

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