Childrens Vision

Lethbridge Children's Eye Health

What Parents Need To Know

When it comes to keeping your child healthy, annual visits to the pediatrician are important. But what most parents don’t realize is that annual visits to the children’s eye doctor are equally important.

Regularly scheduled eye exams are essential to healthy vision, enhancing your child’s ability to learn as well as to engage in sports and other physical activities.

Most importantly, early visits to a kid’s eye doctor are crucial in the detection and correction of childhood ocular problems such as lazy eye and strabismus (crossed eyes), as these can become more difficult to treat once your child is older.

Children’s Eye Exams: First Appointment

According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, children should have their first eye exam as early as 6 months. They should then receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age and then again at 5, just before entering school.

For school-aged children, an eye exam should be scheduled every 2 years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or according to the eye doctor’s recommendation.

Eye & Vision Problems That Affect Children

Besides testing for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, a children’s eye doctor will examine your child’s eyes for signs of these common vision problems:

  1. Amblyopia

Commonly referred to as ‘lazy eye’, this is a leading cause of vision loss in children. It results in decreased vision in one or both eyes that isn’t correctable by contact lenses or glasses. Early detection through eye exams is crucial in diagnosing and treating lazy eye and treatment options include wearing an eye patch or using eye drops.

  1. Focusing problems

Children with focusing problems tend to have difficulty changing focus from distance to near and back again. They may also have problems maintaining adequate focus for reading. If detected early by a kid’s eye doctor, this can be successfully treated with vision therapy.

  1. Strabismus

More commonly known as ‘crossed eyes,’ strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes resulting from a lack of coordination of the eye muscles. Because this ocular problem can be difficult to see, a comprehensive children’s eye exam is necessary to detect and treat crossed eyes, preventing possible vision loss.

  1. Convergence Insufficiency

This is the inability to keep the eye comfortably aligned for near tasks such as reading. If detected early through eye exams, convergence insufficiency can be successfully treated with vision therapy and your children’s eye doctor can develop a specific program of eye exercises for your child’s needs.

Vision Correction: Children and Contact Lenses

One of the most common questions many parents have about contact lenses and kids is: When is my child old enough to wear contact lenses?

Although eye doctors begin to encourage contact lens wear between the ages of 11-14, wearing lenses is less a matter of age and more about whether your child is responsible enough to care for their contact lenses properly.

Through a comprehensive contact lens fitting, parents, kids and eye doctors can make an informed decision together about whether contact lenses or eyeglasses are the best option for your child.

Here are a few things you should know if you are considering contact lenses for your child:

  • Some contact lenses can slow the progression of nearsightedness
  • Contact lenses are better for sports activities
  • Wearing contact lenses can make your child less self-conscious and improve their self-esteem
  • Most eye doctors report great results with kids and contact lenses

If you have any concerns or questions, our children’s eye doctors have the expertise and experience to help you decide what’s right for your child’s vision correction.

Learn More

To learn more about how our Lethbridge eye doctors help protect your child’s vision and about contact lens wear for teenagers, contact our clinic today at 403-327-4166 or book a contact lens fitting.

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