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Eyes Grow from Ages 0-6, Regular Exams are Necessary!

Did you know that your eyes actually grow? It’s true! Eyes grow from ages 0-6 and then start growing again during puberty finishing their growth by early adulthood. During times of eye growth, a child is most at risk of developing a visual acuity issue.

 

The vision then stabilizes when the eye stops growing until “old-age” related eye issues start in the early fifties. Despite children’s eyes growing rapidly in the first two years of their life and continuing to grow until age 6, the CDC reports that fewer than 15% of preschool children receive an eye exam by a professional. And while vision screenings have become ubiquitous in schools across the country, they aren't enough.


School vision screenings miss up to 75% of children with vision problems. And 61% of the children found to have eye problems through screenings never visit the doctor or get help. These are not good statistics! Children deserve to be able to see well.

 


Because of these statistics, the AOA recommends children receive comprehensive eye exams on a regular schedule that begins in infancy:




  • A comprehensive baseline eye exam between the ages of 6 months and 12 months

  • At least one comprehensive eye exam between the ages of 3 and 5 to check for any conditions that could have long-term effects

  • An annual, comprehensive eye exam starting before first grade

 

The important part of this recommendation is it is recommended for every child even if you think they can see. Much of a child's learning is visual, if their vision is impacted in any way, it can hinder their learning and put them behind their peers. Blurry vision is not the only reason to have an eye exam. Your child could also have an accommodative disorder such as having difficulty using both eyes together, a critical reading skill. (See our blog ‘Does your Kid Hate Reading’ for more information).

 

Additionally, undetected, and untreated vision problems can elicit some of the very same signs and symptoms commonly attributed to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. A yearly comprehensive eye exam can help make the right diagnosis for your child's needs.

Let’s look at some more statistics from the AOA’s Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination:


Over 20% of children 0-5 are far-sighted enough to need correction for reading. Children this young with that level of far-sightedness are at high risk of developing Strabismus, where the eyes don’t align, and if that’s not corrected can lead to Amblyopia, aka Lazy Eye.


1 in 6 children between 5 and 16 becomes near-sighted with 75% of these cases occurring between the ages of 9 and 13.


The prevalence of near-sightedness in 12–17-year-olds increased from 24% in 1971 to 33.9% in the early 2000’s. This has continued to rise in the last 20 years.


Near-sightedness can contribute to many eye conditions later in life such as retinal holes, detachment, and tears, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration – all of which can cause blindness. Catching near-sightedness early and following a myopia management plan throughout grade school is key to decreasing the risk factor so these later conditions are unlikely to develop.


At least 5% of children between 6 and 18 have an accommodative disorder with 8% suffering from convergence insufficiency, and 7% suffering from convergence excess. To learn more about accommodative disorders, you can read our blog here.


Additionally, 8% of white males and 3% of other males are born with color vision deficiency.

In short, children’s eyes need care too. If your yearly medical checklist does not include:

o   Primary Care Doctor

o   Dentist

o   Optometrist


Then I highly encourage you to add all three to your schedule. Just like going to the doctor and the dentist every year regardless of any active problems can keep you happy and healthy, going to the eye doctor every year regardless of how well you can see works the same way. The earlier you catch problems, the easier they are to fix!


For school aged children in particular, there are many programs that can help obtain vision care even when finances are in a difficult position. Here are two that the AOA recommends:


InfantSEE®

InfantSEE is a public health program that is designed to ensure that eye and vision care is available to all infants to set them on the course for a lifetime of healthy vision. Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.


Sight for Students

Telephone: 1-888-290-4964

Sight for Students is a Vision Service Plan (VSP) program that provides eye exams and glasses to children 18 years and younger whose families cannot afford vision care.

Other non-profits such as OneSight, GivingSight, and SightSavers also work to help expand vision access to low-income areas and areas that lack access to vision care.


Any questions, please contact us at info@optoorg.com

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