Children's Vision and Amblyopia

Joy, excitement, and wonder overcome you as you look at your new born child. Endless possibilities of the life they will create for themselves run through your mind over the following weeks. Will they be an athlete, an educator, work with their hands, brains, or serve others in one capacity or another? How will I raise them to reach their full potential? How can I keep them healthy and get them on a successful path from an early age? These are all thoughts that parents have at one time in the early days of their children’s lives.

Shortly after their arrival to this world the doctor visits begin. It is recommended that infants have about 10 visits with their Pediatrician before the age of 2 years old, at varying increments. Then yearly after that. It is important that this is done to ensure that the baby's body is growing properly and that they are reaching their developmental milestones.

But what of their eyes? The eyes are a key role the baby uses to reach those milestones. To see motion, shapes, colors, mimic faces, where to grab, crawl, walk, and eventually how to read and do well in school. It is vital that infants and young children see their Primary Eye Care Provider as early as 6 months to ensure that ocular and visual benchmarks are met appropriately as well. Fewer than 13% of children 2 years old or younger receive an eye exam, yet refractive and ocular problems are more common than you would think. It was found that “School vision screenings miss up to 75% of children with vision problems. And 61% of the children found to have eye problems through screenings never visit the doctor or get help.” Such problems can affect their progression into school age and adult life if not caught and managed sufficiently early. It can be difficult to know if your child is struggling to see, or if the connections between their brain and eyes are forming well. Children don't know what they don't know and therefore may not say anything! Many times in my career I have heard children express, “Wow! That's what leaves really look like.” They grow up in their early years thinking how they see their world is how everyone sees. Other times it is more subtle. The child may see clearly, but both eyes are having a difficult time working together, which can lead to headaches, eye strain, or double vision.

The American Optometric Association recommends:

A comprehensive baseline eye exam between the ages of 6 months and 12 months At least one comprehensive eye exam between the ages of 3 and 5 to check for any conditions that could have long-term effects An annual, comprehensive eye exam starting before first grade

Nearly 50% of the human brain plays a role in vision processing, all of which is continuing development after birth. Your Eye Care Doctor will ensure that this development is occurring properly and give your child their best chance for success in life. Following these recommendations will give you the peace of mind that you have done everything necessary to aid in your child’s development.

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