Did you know that a newborn baby cannot visually tell the difference between two objects until 3 months of age? And that a baby does not develop color vision for another 2 months? Babies will eventually start to recognize familiar objects, develop hand-eye coordination and judge distance.
How to Detect Children’s Eye Health Issues
As children grow, their vision continues to develop. As preschoolers, children are further developing hand-eye-body coordination, fine motor skills, plus the visual perception needed to learn to read and write. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), about 10% of preschoolers have eye problems – however at this age, most children will not tell their parents they are having problems with their eyes.
Warning Signs That Your Child May Be Experiencing Vision Problems
- Squinting or tilting the head when watching TV
- Holding a book too close to their eyes or sitting close to the TV
- Consistently using their fingers to guide their eyes when reading
- Closing one eye to read
- Excessive tearing without any tear-causing stimuli
- Frequent eye rubbing when concentrating on something
- Eye discomfort when using a computer or any digital device
- Sensitivity to light, sometimes accompanied by headache or nausea
- Wandering eyes or crossed eyes
- A family history of childhood vision problems
- Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
By school age, vision becomes a skill that is relied on daily, both in the classroom and at play. If a child’s vision is not functioning properly, they will have difficulty learning in school.
This is why the sooner a vision problem is detected, the sooner it can be addressed – and the better the outcome. A good rule of thumb is to have a child’s eyes examined during well-child visits, beginning around age three.
Common Childhood Eye Problems That Can Be Detected
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (crossed or misaligned eyes)
- Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)
- Color deficiency (color blindness)
Taking measures to protect children’s eyes is another part of maintaining healthy vision.
Protect a Child’s Vision With Basic Safety Rules
- Children should wear protective eyewear while participating in sports or recreational activities
- When outside, wear sunglasses that have 99–100% UVA and UVB protection
- Ensure toys are age-appropriate (watch for sharp or protruding parts)
- When watching a screen such as a phone, TV or computer for a long period of time, follow the 20/20/20 rule – Every 20 minutes, look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds
First Aid Tips For an Eye Injury in Children and Adults
In the unfortunate event that something does harm a child’s eyes (or an adult’s) you’ll need to seek first aid immediately.
- If particles like sand or dust get into the eyes, don’t rub them – gently flush the eyes with water
- If an eye gets hit with something hard like a ball or elbow, put a cold compress on the eye for at least 15 minutes to help reduce swelling and pain
- If chemicals splash into the eyes, flush eyes with water for at least 10 minutes, then see an eye doctor immediately
A healthy and nutritious diet is very important for eye development and overall good health. Encourage a varied diet that offers a full complement of nutrients.
Many good vitamins are found in fruits and vegetables, such as vitamin A in carrots and vitamin C in citrus fruits and berries. Lutein, a nutrient important to eye health, is found in leafy greens and eggs and in fish such as salmon and tuna.
Is It Time to Get Your Child’s Eyes Checked?
At Eye Care of Delaware we are committed to providing first-class eye care to our patients in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We offer vision correction, cataract surgery and other eye care treatments. If you would like to schedule an appointment for yourself or for your child, contact us online or call us today at (302) 454-8800.