Children'e Eye Health
Vision and eye problems aren’t exclusive to older patients. It has been estimated that more than 12 million children suffer from some type of visual impairment - 25% of children are affected by the time they begin formal schooling. A child’s vision problem can worsen if left untreated, and may make it difficult for them to learn. This is why it is highly important to have your child’s eyes checked early and often.
Your child may have a vision problem without even being aware that anything is wrong. Make sure to schedule eye examinations with a certified eye care specialist starting at age 3 to check for common conditions such as strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), ptosis (drooping eyelids), color blindness, or refractive errors (near or farsightedness).
These examinations are an important preventative health measure, especially if you have a family history of eye conditions or impairments. The earlier these conditions are diagnosed, the better your child’s chances of having normal, healthy vision as an adult. If left untreated, vision problems can quickly become detrimental to your child’s development.
How Often Does My Child Need an Eye Exam?
Most optometrists and ophthalmologists agree that a child’s eyes should be checked about 4 times between birth and age 5. The first exam is recommended at some point from the time the child is born until about 3 months of age. After this, between 6 and 12 months. The final two examinations should occur around the 3rd and 5th birthdays. Of course, if your child has any genetic predisposition to certain eye conditions, it is advisable to schedule more frequent checkups. Talk to an eye care specialist if:
Â· Your child was born prematurely or has a developmental delay
Â· Your family has a history of any types of eye conditions or impairments
Â· You or your child have African-American heritage
Â· Your child has suffered a previous eye injury or condition
Â· Your child has any health conditions such as diabetes or HIV which may increase the risk of contracting eye-related diseases
Preventing Eye Injuries in Children
Two of the most common sources of eye injuries in young patients are hazardous toys and sports accidents. Luckily, you can reduce the risk of your child sustaining an eye injury by following the recommended advice of your eye doctor.
Sports are the leading cause of accidental eye injuries in children. To reduce the risk of these types of accidents, make sure your child wears protective athletic eyewear with durable polycarbonate lenses every time they play a sport. If your child is opposed to protective eyewear, educate them about the importance of sport safety. Let them know that wearing protective eyewear keeps their eyes safe so they can continue playing for as long as they’d like.
Aside from sports accidents, toys are another leading cause of eye injury in children. When choosing toys for children, avoid all products that have projectiles, sharp points, or small pieces. Darts, air rifles, paintball guns, and similar toys should only be given to children who are mature enough to use them responsibly and follow proper safety guidelines. When in doubt, avoid these products entirely and opt for less risky alternatives.
If you have any doubts or concerns about your children’s eye health as it relates to hobbies or lifestyles, talk with an experienced eye doctor. Your local care provider can show you how to effectively minimize the risk of accident and injury so your children can enjoy doing the things that make them happy.
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