From infancy to the age of seven when the eyes are fully developed, children are developing their focus, tracking, depth perception and other aspects of vision growth. For a child, healthy and clear vision is vital for the learning process and any undiagnosed eyesight condition could result in developmental delays or academic struggles. Regular vision screenings and comprehensive eye exams are important in identifying vision issues and determining effective treatment plans. Routine eye exams should begin by the age of 3 years old.
Well-Being reached out to John H. McVey, M.D., Ophthalmologist, at Jackson Eye Associates about protecting their child’s vision with proper care and screening.
“On a routine basis around age three is a good time to check most children’s vision,” notes John H. McVey, M.D., JEA physician. “If there’s any family history of ‘lazy eye,’ crossed eyes, childhood cataracts, childhood glaucoma or retinal issues, children need to be checked much sooner.”
After age 5, routine screenings should be done at school and the primary doctor’s office, and if symptoms such as squinting or frequent headaches occur. (Many times, a teacher will notice that a child isn’t seeing well in class.)
Also, parents can aid in their child’s vision health and protection by knowing their family history. If there is a hereditary eye disease or condition that traces back over multiple generations, be informed and proactively look for early symptoms. Common conditions, such as nearsightedness, crossed eye or lazy eye, are not life-threatening, but if untreated could lead to permanent vision loss.
Each year thousands of children sustain eye damage or even blindness from accidents at home, at play, in the car and during sports. More than 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented through use of suitable protective eyewear. Know steps you can take to prevent serious eye injuries.
• Teach your children to be EyeSmart by safeguarding your own sight with ANSI-approved protective eyewear during potentially dangerous yard work and household repairs or projects.
• Children should wear sports eye protectors made with polycarbonate lenses for baseball, basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer, hockey, lacrosse and paintball.
• All chemicals and sprays should be kept out of reach of small children.
• Parents and others who provide care and supervision for children need to practice safe use of common items that can cause serious eye injury, such as paper clips, pencils, scissors, bungee cords, wire coat hangers and rubber bands.
• Only purchase age-appropriate toys.
• Avoid projectile toys such as darts, bows and arrows, and missile-firing toys.
• Look for toys marked with “ASTM”, which means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
• Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Pad or cushion sharp corners. Put locks on all cabinets and drawers that kids can reach.
• Do not allow your children to play with non-powder rifles, pellet guns or BB guns. They are extremely dangerous and have been reclassified as firearms and removed from toy departments.
• Do not allow children anywhere near fireworks, especially bottle rockets. These fireworks pose a serious risk of eye injury and have been banned in several states.
• When very small children (age 4 and younger) are bitten by dogs, eye injuries occur about 15 percent of the time. The dog is usually one the child is familiar with, and second attacks by the same dog are likely to cause more serious injury. It is recommended that any dog that bites a child be removed from the household.
• On the road, make sure children are properly secured in baby carriers and child safety seats and that the seat and shoulder belts fit well. Children age 12 and younger should never ride in the front seat. Store loose items in the trunk or secured on the floor, as any loose object can become a dangerous projectile in a crash.
Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology – Eye Prevention Tips