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When and why should a child’s eyes be tested?

It’s difficult to know when your child needs to have an eye exam for the first time. But most experts agree that your child’s eyes should be checked shortly after birth, before starting school and throughout their school years.

Infants at risk (meaning low birth weight and prematurity) should be seen before age 1.  Examination at early ages is important in detecting strabismus, which is a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other.  This can cause one eye to develop amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” and if not corrected permanent vision loss can result.  It is important for parents to know that vision screenings at school many times are too late and may fail to detect strabismus. – Dr. Hartman

Vision Problems in Children
Vision problems in kids, such as uneven focus or a slightly wandering eye, tend to emerge between 18 months and 4 years old. While these conditions may not seem alarming, if either disorder goes unchecked, the child’s stronger eye starts ignoring the images coming from the weaker eye, and stops developing the nerve connections leading to it. By the age of 6 or 7, the vision loss in that weaker eye is usually permanent. Both of these conditions can be stopped and reversed, but they need to be caught early with a comprehensive vision screening.

Another issue is that sometimes the eyes are not symmetrical, meaning there are different amounts of prescription in each eye.  This happened to one of my children.  She was completely symptom-free and seeing great, and we just happened to check her eyes one day while one of her siblings was getting checked.  We found a huge difference between her two eyes.  We immediately got her glasses and were fairly aggressive with patching (to help strengthen the weak eye), and now both eyes are seeing equally and clearly.  We found this when she was 4, but if we had waited and found out later (6-7), it may have been irreversible.  – Dr. May

Early Vision Exams
Your child’s eyesight is important for their well-being and self-esteem. Begin a vision exam regiment early to help protect and preserve your child’s health. If you do encounter a vision problem, eye doctors can address vision problems in young children with corrective lenses or minor adjustments.

Most people underestimate the importance of well-fitting frames. In general, children are more active than adults, and they need glasses that will maintain a good fit during various activities. If the glasses are constantly falling off the patients face or sliding down the child’s nose, the child’s motivation to wear the glasses will decrease dramatically. At Johnson Optometric, we take pride in our quality frame selection as well as our expertise in helping the patient select an attractive and proper fitting frame. – Dr. Martin

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