Proper development is essential for children. Developments during a person's childhood will have lasting effects throughout the rest of his/her life. The American Optometric Association says that infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age and thereafter, children should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade, at about age 5 or 6.
Good eyesight is your child's main tool in the struggle for success in school. Every child should receive check-ups on a regular basis to check for conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism that could adversely affect your child in the classroom and in their extra-curricular activities. “Eyesight is one of the most important factors in determining your child's success or failure in the classroom. Without proper eyecare your child can easily fall behind, even if they are giving it an A+ effort,” cautions Dr. Ty J. Miller, O.D. in Akron, Ohio. “Having eye exams for your child both early and often is important in allowing your eye doctor to check for basic skills related to good eyesight for life and learning. These include eye movement skills, ability to focus eyes together both close and far, peripheral awareness and hand-eye coordination.”
According to Dr. Miller, “Beyond classroom considerations, many very serious eye conditions may show symptoms even while your child is an infant. These conditions become much harder to correct, and threaten to affect your child's vision into adulthood, if they go a long time without treatment. Strabismus and amblyopia are two very common conditions that can easily be detected early if your child is given eye exams early and regularly.”
Strabismus is a common eye condition in which the eyes do not align properly. One eye may look straight while the other may look to the inside, outside, up or down. Strabismus happens when muscles that control eye movements are misaligned or underdeveloped. Other conditions affecting development, such as cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, prematurity or brain tumors often can cause a child to develop strabismus. In a child with strabismus, the misalignment of the eyes sends two entirely different images to the brain, causing the brain to have great difficulty or to be completely unable to combine the normally similar images from both eyes into one single interpreted image, a process called binocular fusion. If strabismus goes untreated for long enough, the child's brain eventually learns to deal with the differing images sent by the misaligned eyes by eliminating images that come from one of the eyes. This can cause a child to develop a further condition called amblyopia.
Amblyopia is sometimes known as lazy eye. This is a common condition in which sight in one eye is extremely poor because that eye did not develop normal sight during a person's developmental stages. Left undiagnosed and untreated for too long, amblyopia can cause several problems to develop that can seriously effect vision from childhood into adulthood. The weaker eye may develop a serious and permanent visual defect and depth perception may be permanently lost.
Whether it is to be sure that your child can see the chalkboard in school, catch the football while running for a touchdown, or is protected from harmful eye conditions now and into adulthood, early, regular and thorough eye exams are absolutely essential for your child's healthy development.
Contact your eye doctor today for more information, and to schedule your child's comprehensive eye exam.