The other day, a friend and I were trading stories about our kids, as moms do, and she told me a story about her son and his eyes.
Sheri’s son had never had an eye exam. She didn’t think it was necessary as she’d never noticed any obvious eye problems. But when he was about five, she starting noticing some things that she didn’t realize at the time were signs of a possible problem. He had a hard time concentrating, and he had a funny habit of tilting his head when he talked to people. He would even sometimes get right in their faces when having a conversation. When he started squinting, rubbing his eyes, and blinking excessively, she realized something was wrong and got him in for his first eye exam.
During the exam, the optometrist gave her son corrective lenses, and he yelled with glee “Mommy! I can see out my eyes!” Apparently this poor boy’s eyes hadn’t developed properly as a baby, and he’d been struggling with his vision ever since. If he’d had his recommended eye exams as in infant, it would have been caught a lot earlier and spared him a lot of grief.
Talking to Sheri reminded me that my own kids are overdue for their eye exams too. I’d meant to take them before school started, but the time got away from me and now it’s November. Ugh. I solemnly promise to get this done without delay. Just because I haven’t noticed any problems, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any! In fact regular eye exams can catch health issues like glaucoma, brain or eye tumours, diabetes, pediatric cataracts, high blood pressure, and retinal detachment.
How often should children see the eye doctor?
That’s why early and regular pediatric eye care is so important. Babies should have their first complete optometric eye exam at around six months. Following that, they should have at least one more around age three, and then once a year after they start school.
Babies and toddlers can’t tell us there’s something wrong, and even older kids may not be able to express themselves. If they’ve never seen clearly, how would they know that something’s not right?
Signs your child needs to visit the optometrist
Kids need to see an eye doctor immediately if they show any obvious physical signs like red, itchy or watering eyes, excessive blinking, or a sensitivity to light. They may complain of frequent headaches, grimace frequently, or act irritable or frustrated. If your child avoids watching TV or reading books, it could be a sign of trouble.
Take them in to the optometrist if your child frequently loses their place or needs to use a finger to maintain their place while reading, or if they miss words altogether. Avoiding close-up work, or conversely, work that is far away, could also mean they’re having trouble seeing clearly.
Academic performance is another one of those things that often gets overlooked. If your child is performing below their potential and you don’t know why, consult a eye care specialist! It may just be that they are having eye issues and aren’t able to communicate that to you.
The Medical Services Plan of BC covers eye exams for all children under 19, so you can schedule regular check ups without having to worry about the cost. All you need to do is find a friendly optometrist and professional full-service office in your neighbourhood. Image Optometry cares for all your family’s eye care needs from full eye exams and eye care services to glasses and contacts, and they have 16 locations across the Lower Mainland.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. Your experience may differ.