School is starting and as parents, you do care about your child’s education. Between the new life rhythm with school hours, the purchase of school supplies, the first day of school and new friends, you wish your child gets the best possible start with his first school days in the best possible conditions. There is a parameter that is not negligible for the best learning condition: your child’s eyesight. Learning and adequate vision go hand in hand.
What are the precursor signs that suggest that your child may need glasses?
The back to school period is a good time to have an eye exam done to your children. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, 80 to 90% of information given in class is assimilated through vision. It is imperative to have your child’s vision examined by a specialist as young as possible. A child’s vision starts developing right from birth, month per month, and tends to stabilize itself around 18 years of age, before being exposed to other vision stressors.
According to the “Association des optometrists du Québec” 2 to 3 children start school without ever having their eyes and sight examined. Close to 25% of students do suffer from some visual problems, a situation that tends to be missed by parents since the child “thinks” his vision is normal, he thinks he is seeing like his friends.
Children may suffer from different visual issues: strabismus, blurred vision, convergence difficulties, hyperopia, amblyopia, etc. However, it is difficult for them to voice their visual problem before a certain age, plus their vision is constantly evolving. It is necessary to be vigilant and to regularly consult an optometrist; their education and school accomplishments may depend on it.
There are different signs that suggest your child might need corrective glasses.
A child may cover one eye while looking at a book or a screen, he may get “cross-eyed” if looking intently at an object, rubbing his eyes regularly or tilting his head. There can be secondary symptoms such as recurring headaches or visual fatigue, difficulty to read or memorize a text or difficulty with perception of geometric forms.
In general, optometrists report seeing cases of amblyopia, or lazy eye in clinic more frequently than other issues. In these cases, the child does not complain about his vision but mostly of headaches and fatigue. The amblyopic eye must be treated with a patch before age 12. The visual exam can also detect other vision problems such as strabismus, hyperopia or diplopia (double vision).
Regular eye checkup for peace of mind
Consultations with an optometrist are not to be taken lightly, an optometrist can determine through different tests if your child needs immediate correction or might later in life. It is recommended to have your child’s vision checked as early as 6 months old. Already at 2 months old the baby can perceive colors and follow slowly moving objects. At 1 year old, his vison field resembles the adult’s vision field. When your child reaches 3 to 5 years old it is strongly recommended to have his eyes checked as his tri-dimension vision reaches its best potential. Then a yearly checkup is recommended throughout his school years, at least from 6 to 18 years old.
Family history can also have an influence on the vision problem that may affect your child. Example, if glaucoma is present in your family, there is a 20% increase in the risk of developing glaucoma. We sometime see glaucoma in a newborn, in this case it is called congenital glaucoma.
Finally, it is imperative to limit the time spent in front of screens, television, computer or tablets, by your children, the blue light emitted by said screens can damage vision, increase speed of developing vision problems and disturb their sleep patterns.
Quentin Reinhart – September 2019 Traduction T. Vincent