Regular eye examinations are crucial in your child’s visual development and in turn your child’s overall development. As early as 6 months, basic eye functions such as fixation, binocularity, and field of vision can be assessed. Furthermore, ocular diseases in children such as congenital cataracts or retinoblastoma have a much better prognosis if diagnosed and treated early.
Early detection is also key to treating conditions more common conditions such as amblyopia and strabismus which have a much better prognosis if treatment is initiated early on. Although school screenings play an important role in detecting eye problems, its possible that eye problems may be overlooked. We recommend a child’s first eye examination between 6 months and 12 months of age followed by annual eye examinations through elementary and highschool up to age 18.
Does Watching Too Much TV Worsen Vision?
A common question asked by parents is whether their child’s vision is getting worse due to the fact they watch too much TV. While some studies have shown a link between time spent indoor and progression of myopia, there has not been any scientific evidence of TV causing an increase in refractive error.
What Causes Myopia in Children to get Worse?
Various ophthalmic studies have shown that prolonged near work, particularly closer than 30 cm, is related to an increase in prevalence of myopia and myopia progression in children. Near work can be described as anything ranging from reading, writing, crossword puzzles, tablet / Ipad use, phone and smart phone use, and near video game devices. Recently, an increase in tablet and phone has become particularly problematic. We recommend that children up to age 18 spend no longer than 2o minutes of continuous time doing near work. A commonly used rule which we suggest is called the 20/20/20 rule: to take a 20 second break and look 20 feet away every 20 minutes while doing near work.
When Should Children get an Eye Exam?
We recommend parents schedule their child’s first eye exam at approximately 6 months of age. At this stage we are able to assess basic visual functions such as visual acuity (how well your child is seeing), extra-ocular muscle movements (how well your child’s eye muscles are functioning), binocular vision (how well your child’s eyes work together), visual fields, and assess for potential eye diseases such as congenital cataracts, retinoblastoma, blepharitis, pink eye/conjunctivitis, and blocked naso-lacrimal ducts. An approximate refractive error is also obtained at this visit in order to determine whether glasses are needed and to compare to age related norms.