Eye Exams Matter

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Little bodies change at a dizzying rate when kids are growing and their eyes are no exception.

Eye problems affect one in 20 preschoolers and one in four school-age kids and can result in damage if left untreated. So why do so many parents put off getting their children eye exams? In a recent survey by Yougov, a global public opinion and data company, only 50 percent of parents in the U.S. said they take their kids for annual eye exams.

With school-age kids, some parents don’t schedule an eye exam until they hear their child complain about blurriness or headaches. But kids often wait a long time before saying anything and that means months can go by where he’s not able to read his assignments accurately and is generally struggling to keep up because of it.

Before children are diagnosed with a vision problem, they may think the way they see is normal — they sometimes don’t know the difference between clear vision and the way they see things, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports.

Here’s a schedule that you can work with to keep up with excellent eye care for your children:

NEWBORNS: Your pediatrician should examine your newborn’s eyes and perform a reflex test (basic indicator that Baby’s eyes are normal). If the baby is premature, an ophthalmologist should perform a comprehensive exam for signs of abnormalities, or if the family has a history of vision disorders in childhood.

INFANT: A second screening for eye health should be done by a pediatrician or ophthalmologist at a well-child exam between 6 months and 1 year of age.

PRESCHOOLERS: Between the ages of 3 and 3-and-a-half, your child’s vision and eye alignment should be assessed.

BACK TO SCHOOL! In preparation for school, or whenever a problem is suspected, your child’s eyes should be screened for visual acuity and alignment by your pediatrician. Nearsightedness is the most common refractive error in this age group and can be corrected with eyeglasses. If an alignment problem or other eye health issue is suspected, your pediatrician can refer you to an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive exam.

Susan Day is editor of Cincinnati Family Magazine and a mother of four.

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