As a parent, you may wonder whether your preschooler has a vision problem or when you should schedule your child's first eye exam. Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child's vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.
One of the most important things a parent can do to help their children succeed in school is to take them to an optometrist for a yearly comprehensive eye exam. Vision screenings, which some kids have through the school nurse or their family doctor, are helpful, but they are not diagnostic, and they typically identify only a small portion of the vision problems in children. Comprehensive eye exams are necessary to detect problems that a simple screening can miss, such as eye coordination, lazy eye, and near and farsightedness.One in four students has a visual impairment, therefore, millions of children will start school this year with a vision problem that may inhibit their ability to learn and ultimately affect the rest of their lives. A child with undetected vision problems can be frustrated or bored in school because he or she can't see the board or read a book easily. Therefore, students with vision problems may sometimes act out in school. As parents send their children back to school, one of the most important things they can do to help ensure their child's ability to learn is to take them for an annual eye exam.
Since children's eyes develop so rapidly, and they continue to develop until about the age of seven, early detection is essential to correcting potentially permanent vision issues. Furthermore, a standard in-school screening only tests for visual acuity which does not provide the whole picture. Comprehensive eye exams test for visual acuity, color vision, eye alignment, eye health and other chronic diseases such as diabetes.If a child waits too long to have an eye exam, a correctable visual problem may become permanent. For example, while a crossed eye may not seem bad, if left untreated, it can cause serious damage. When one eye isn't functioning properly, the brain often begins to ignore it. Once that starts to happen, it renders that eye essentially blind. However, if a child is treated early, a lazy eye can be fixed fairly simply and any permanent damage can be avoided.