The school year is fast approaching and we are getting our kids ready for a new, fresh start. Although many things may still seem uncertain due to the ongoing pandemic, we do know that Alberta has announced the re-opening of schools to a near-normal level of functioning with additional health measures in place. In addition to buying new backpacks and school supplies, it is important to remember to get their eyes examined if they haven’t had that done in the past year to make sure that they have the opportunity for optimal learning.
Comprehensive eye exams, or detailed checks of vision and ocular health performed by an eye care professional, is recommended from the age of 6 months. Alberta health care also covers most of the cost of eye exams for children up till the age of 19! Much of eye development like controlled eye movements and depth perception as well as eye-hand coordination takes place during the first year of life. Vision significantly improves during this time as well. However, frequent changes in vision and development continue over the next 6-8 years. This is why, it is recommended for children to get annual eye exams.
Certain eye conditions like amblyopia, or lazy eye, and strabismus, or eye turns, have better outcomes when diagnosed and treated earlier than 3 years of age. A lazy eye can cause decreased vision in one or both eyes. Although sometimes, the vision may not be correctable, it can be improved with patching the better eye or other vision therapy techniques. A misalignment of the eyes (eye turn or squint) can be caused by unequal pull of eye muscles or due to conditions like retinoblastoma or cataracts causing significantly reduced vision in one eye. Ocular diseases such as retinoblastoma, which is a rare tumor of the eye, and cataracts, which is opacity of the lens in the eye can happen in infants and young children which is why it is important for children 6 months and older to get regular eye exams. Eye care professionals will be able to evaluate young children for excessive refractive error, eye muscle function, presence of lazy eye and tumors and in older children, even depth perception and color vision problems.
Call our office or book online for your child to get their eyes examined by one of our friendly optometrists before they start school so that we can rule out any of the above conditions and ensure your child is ready for all the new possibilities of the new school year!