Almost one of every four school-age kids have some type of vision problem, and vision is key to learning. With everyone settling back into the classroom, here are some tips from The Vision Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles:
1. Don’t wait until your child enters kindergarten for that first complete eye exam. Pediatricians should perform a dilated eye exam to detect serious eye problems within the first two months of life. Children are often more responsive to treatment when diagnosed early, so every child should have a comprehensive eye exam by age 3. Serious eye diseases like amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes) can be corrected with eye patches or surgery if caught early. Waiting until age 7 or 8 to correct the problem could be too late, resulting in permanent vision problems.
2. Children who avoid reading may have a vision problem. Generally, preschoolers are eager to look at books and try and figure out words. Most children are reading by first grade. And while most reading problems are not caused by vision problems, a child who is having trouble learning to read should still be examined by a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist.
3. If your child is resistant to wearing glasses, point out familiar people who also wear them. When children see relatives, cartoon characters or classmates wearing glasses, it helps defeat the stereotype of glasses as “dorky.” If your child needs to wear glasses, let her pick out the frames so she’ll feel involved in the process.
4. Children age 10 and up can usually manage contact lenses. Children of all ages, even infants, can be fitted with contact lenses if their vision requires it. For kids under 10, an adult will usually need to insert, remove and clean the lenses. Many children over 10 can handle wearing and cleaning the contact lenses themselves.