This is part 1 of a 2 part series on eye care and small children. This is close to my heart because I started wearing glasses when I was 6 years old. Contacts from middle school onward, and I still wear both contacts and glasses. When I was contacted by the Think About Your Eyes campaign, I was very interested.
When your children are small, they aren’t able to tell you there is a problem. And really, it’s always been there, they probably think it’s normal anyway. Parents take their little ones for well checks and to the dentist even though there are no teeth issues, but for some reason they don’t seem to take their kids to the eye doctor unless there’s an obvious issue like lazy eye.
Eyesight is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until you start losing it. My husband has good eyesight and I have poor eyesight (along with the rest of my family) so I want to be sure and do what I can to promote good care around here and not wait until they are actually making their vision worse by straining so much.
The Think About Your Eyes campaign makes a very interesting point that I had never thought of: most parents actually prioritize replaceable baby teeth before irreplaceable vision. Wow. And according to their studies, 84% of parents wait on their children to tell them it’s time to go to the eye doctor. But if your children have only ever had poor eyesight what do they have to compare it with?
Here are some effects of poor eyesight on your little ones that you may not have linked up yet.
1. No interest in detailed activities.
If children can’t see well, it stands to reason they don’t want to do detailed activities. Not because they don’t have the required motor skills (although they may lack these too as a result), but because they just can’t see it. Not wanting to color, do puzzles, or do detailed crafts can be a sign of poor eyesight. Alone it may only signal a child who isn’t interested in sitting still for long, but coupled with other symptoms may be a sign to make an appointment.
Straining to see day in and day out will inevitably cause headaches. Headaches cause crankiness, difficulty in focusing, and trouble sleeping. It’s a bad cycle that can often go uninterrupted because the child doesn’t know the root of the headaches, nor does the parent. I often wonder if my kids have headaches when they are acting mysteriously fussy, but can attest firsthand to how difficult it is wearing outdated prescriptions or trying to go without my contacts or glasses. I can’t see a thing and it hurts to try.
Is your toddler or preschooler clumsy? Blurred vision or inability to see details well can obviously result in some trips, scrapes, and accidents. Are they bumping into corners and walls or stepping in things on accident?
4. Difficulty being outside or in bright rooms.
There are obviously some sensory issues attached to difficulty handling a lot of light. That’s a separate issue altogether, but if your child squints all the time and is unable to open their eyes or focus well in bright rooms or on sunny days, it could be a sign they need their eyes checked.
5. Lack of coordination.
If your child seems fairly coordinated but is unable to aim, hit baseballs, or throw to a target it could be a clue to look closer. Of course little ones won’t be all-stars since they haven’t had the time to develop those skills, but if they seem unable to do things that require hand eye and hand foot coordination then that, coupled with the other symptoms, might be a clue to look further.
Even if your child is not displaying signs of vision problems, it’s a good idea to take them to the doctor just to be sure all is well and to practice prevention and early intervention. However, if your toddler or preschooler exhibits many of these symptoms you most definitely need to get it checked out.
- holds books very close to head
- squints and blinks often
- covers or closes one eye to focus
- difficulty visually tracking
- eyes see to flutter and blink more than normal
- eyes look cloudy
- bulging eyes
- rubbing eyes frequently
- tils head often
Since summer is here…
Since summer is here it’s a good idea to get your kids sunglasses. They’ll think they are cool and their eyes will be protected. When shopping for sunglasses be sure to look for the UVA/UVB sticker. Also, for kids you can get shades that have adjustable straps which are helpful if they are out on the boat or beach and are moving around fairly quickly. I’ll be back within a few weeks with tips on how to prepare your kids for an eye exam. I mean, you know, since smaller kids may not know the alphabet up and down. :)
To find an eye doctor near you and for more interesting information (like how 1 in 4 children actually have undiagnosed vision related conditions) visit Think About Your Eyes and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.