Q: At what age should my child have his/her eyes examined?
A: Eye exams for children should start between 6mos-1 year old. There is a nation-wide program called InfantSee (http://www.infantsee.org/) where participating providers offer a FREE eye exam to children in this age group to make sure the eyes are developing properly. If there are no issues detected, an exam at 3 and 5 years old is sufficient to make sure the eyes are still developing properly for preschool and kindergarten. Since babies and toddlers have no way of knowing if what they see is “normal” and “clear” or not, having a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to ensure their eyes and vision is developing properly. Any ocular issues are best addressed sooner rather than later because 80% of learning takes place through vision in kids!
Q: What is Vision Therapy?
A: Vision therapy is an individualized treatment plan prescribed by a Doctor of Optometry. It is used to treat eye conditions, such as strabismus (eye turn) or amblyopia (“lazy eye”). Through Vision Therapy, a Doctor of Optometry also teaches, improves and/or reinforces important visual skills, such as eye tracking, eye focusing and eye teaming abilities. Without these visual skills, simple tasks like reading or copying notes from the board become difficult. Skipping words or lines while reading, using a finger while reading, blurry near vision, double vision, eyestrain and/or eye fatigue are also common symptoms.
Q: At what age do you recommend children start with contact lenses?
A: As an optometrist, I believe that contact lenses can be worn at any age. But contacts are a privilege and not a right. There is a financial responsibility associated with contact lens wear, as well as the need for overall accountability to avoid eye health issues. Therefore, for young people I recommend that we wait to try contacts until both the patient and parent are on board. In my experience, if the patient is not wanting contact lenses he/she will not take care of them appropriately and/or will not be successful at handling the lenses. On the flip side, the parent(s) need to agree to assuming the financial responsibility of fit, follow up, and materials; also, they must agree that their child is mature enough to take care of the contacts on his/her own.