October is Children’s Vision Month

Many vision problems can be treated if caught early, but not all parents realize that regular exams at an early age are important. This October, remember that undiagnosed vision problems can impact a child’s learning and development.

Last month we underscored how vital vision is in the process of learning at school: 80% of classroom learning is visual. Vision problems can affect babies and children of all ages, making early and regular eye exams by a qualified optometrist essential.

Eye Rubbing

In the youngest children, eye rubbing can be a sign of a vision problem. If we see a young child rubbing their eyes we might assume an irritant is present, as with allergies, but it may be their vision is bothering them.

Common problems that can occur, sometimes together, include:

  • strabismus (misaligned eyes)
  • myopia (nearsightedness)
  • hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • astigmatism (causing distorted / blurred vision)

Glasses may be prescribed to treat these types of conditions successfully.

In addition, it’s possible that an eye disorder or disease may be present that needs to be addressed differently. One such example is Keratoconus, a progressive condition which causes thinning of the cornea at the front of the eye.

And not just any eye test will help to identify these conditions. Without the expertise of an optometrist and a comprehensive eye exam, your child’s vision problem could go undetected.

Regular Eye Exams

Young child using binocularsChildren should have their first routine eye examination between two and three years of age. However, if there are concerns such as a misaligned eye, frequent rubbing and blinking, infections, or failure to meet developmental milestones, infants as young as 6 months of age can be examined by our eye doctors.

Your child does not need to be able to read or to identify letters to have an eye examination.

The good news is that OHIP covers an annual comprehensive eye exam up to and including the age of 19.

Start a great yearly tradition with a visit to have your child’s eyes checked.

Schedule a visit with one of our eye doctors either in Gloucester or Almonte. We look forward to seeing you.

Myopia in children

A new study on nearsightedness in Canadian children has revealed a big jump in this condition between grades 1 to 8. The research tells of a fivefold increase in cases in this timeframe for schoolchildren, noting that a third of cases are believed to be undiagnosed and therefore uncorrected.

“Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eye grows too long and causes light rays to focus at a point before the retina. Close objects look clear but distant objects are harder to distinguish and appear blurred.” University of Waterloo

The research team, from the University of Waterloo and CNIB, noted that myopia rises from just 6% of children ages 6 to 8 to nearly 29% in children ages 11 to 13. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that myopia is “increasing globally at an alarming rate” and can add more pressure to the risks for vision impairment. With myopia appearing earlier in this generation’s children, these individuals may be at risk for a greater decline in eyesight over the course of their lifetime. Retinal degeneration and detachment are two complications that arise from myopia.

Read the full study from the University of Waterloo, Myopia and a prescription to slow down progression.

Contact our Gloucester clinic or Almonte clinic if your child or teen needs a checkup or you have specific concerns.