Friday, October 13, 2006

Vision Screening Kids

By Brandi M. Seals

Most parents take their kids to the pediatrician for check ups and take them to the dentist to keep cavities at bay. But, what about the optomintrist? Vision screen is often overlooked by many parents. Do not put your children at a disadvantage. Make sure they are up to date on their vision screening.

Visits to the optometrist are often neglected because most kids have healthy, normal eyes, but not everyone is so lucky. There are babies born with eye diseases and disorders. Early intervention goes a long way towards saving vision. If a problem goes untreated without attention before age 5, the child may suffer serious vision loss, even blindness. While that is rare, it does help drive home the point that vision screening is very important.

If you have a young child and suspect their may be a vision problem, consult your pediatrician. However, every child should have their vision checked at six months, three years and by his or her 5th birthday.

Common eye problems in children include:

Binocular Vision
Binocular vision affect approximatly 15 out of every 100 children. It is a visual defect in which the eyes do not work together which can result in double vision and depth perception issues.

Amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes) are commonly known types of binocular vision impairment.

Lazy Eye
Amblyopia affects 2 or 3 out of every 100 children in the US. It involves clarity problems and or poor muscle control in one of the eyes. This affects the ability to see accurately in 3D and may cause depth perception problems.

Vision therapy at any age can improve the condition. However, the longer the condition goes untreated, the longer the therapy will need to be to correct the problem.

Crossed Eyes
Strabismus affects 4 out of every 100 children in the US. It i s a defect in which the eyes point in different directions. Eyes can turn in, out, up or down. Basically both eyes do not look in the same direction at the same time. This results in loss of depth perception and loss of stereo vision.

Parents may think they could easily spot if their child is cross eyed, but it is not always so simple. Sometimes the misalignment is so slight that it is not obvious to untrained eyes. Vision therapy overseen by an optometrist is recommended for this condition.

Does your child:
hold objects close to his eyes?
rub his eyes, blink or squint after close visual work?
tilt the head to one side?
have difficulty catching or getting a ball?
move his head (and not the eye) when reading?
complain of headaches after reading?
become tired after reading?
frequently lose his place when reading or use his finger as a pointer?
have difficulty comprehending what was read?
read slowly?
complain of headaches?
have red or watery eyes?
have poor hand-eye coordination?
have a short attention span or difficulty staying on task?
reverses words or letters?
complain of blurred vision with schoolwork or reading?
have difficulty copying from a textbook or chalkboard?
avoid reading?

If you answered yes to any of these, you should take your child for a check up.

While you may think you are doing what it takes to avoid vision problems, keep in mind that vision myths abound. Such myths include:

Even though glasses make you see better, they cause vision to get worse over time.

Limit time for wearing glasses because you need to exercise your eyes.
Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes

Reading in the dark will damage the eyes

Wearing contacts will keep nearsightedness from getting worse

Eating carrots can improve vision

Keep in mind that most children do not know they have a vision problem. I was 8 when I started wearing glasses. I did not know I had a problem. I even passed my school's vision test just fine. My sister didn't fair so well. She had to go to the eye doctor. As a younger jealous sister, I wanted to go too. She wore glasses part time for two years before getting the all clear. 16 years later, I am sitting here with my glasses on to correct my astigmatism.

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