Alamo Optometry Blog

July 1, 2009

Preschool Vision

Filed under: Educational — Tags: — admin @ 11:33 pm

Preschool Vision

(As appeared in Alamo Today, July 2009, pg. 30)

Over the next few months, I will be addressing vision and eye health needs by age group. Each age group has its own needs and challenges. Whether it is dealing with crossed eyes as a youngster, presbyopia (needing reading help) in your 40’s, or macular degeneration in your later years, everyone needs to maximize and preserve their vision and eye health. This month we will start young and discuss preschoolers between 2 to 5 years of age.
During the preschool years, your child will be fine-tuning the vision they have already developed during the infant and toddler years. Young preschoolers pedal, steer and watch where they’re going at the same time. Older preschoolers are learning how to use more sophisticated sports equipment such as baseball bats and baseballs and working on the fine motor skills needed to write their names. Preschoolers depend on their vision to learn tasks that will prepare them for school. They are developing eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and visual perceptual abilities necessary to learn to read and write.
Approximately 10% of preschoolers have eye or vision problems, but rarely complain because they assume that the world is blurry or distorted because they have nothing else to compare it to. This is generally the time when parents need to be on the look out for vision problems like crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye. Strabismus involves one or both eyes turning inward or outward. Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a lack of clear vision in one eye, which cannot be fully corrected with glasses. Amblyopia can be caused by many things including strabismus, a very high prescription, having a large difference in prescription between the eyes, disease, and trauma. If not treated early enough, the amblyopic eye does not develop normally and good vision may be permanently lost.
Parents also need to look for refractive errors like farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism in their preschoolers by watching for any of these warning signs: consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close, squinting, tilting the head to see better, frequent eye rubbing when your child is not sleepy, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing, closing one eye to read, and avoiding activities which require near vision, such as coloring or reading, or distance vision, such as playing ball or tag.
Make sure your child receives a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care practitioner, not just screenings from school nurses or pediatricians. Screenings may help spot problems, but they can easily miss them, too, because they are not complete tests. Passing a vision screening can give parents a false sense of security. Many screenings only assess one or two areas of vision. Generally they do not evaluate color vision, eye health, and how well the eyes work and focus together. In addition, screenings are typically administered by people who don’t have enough eye-specific training in order to catch all vision and eye health problems.
If your child exhibits no symptoms of a refractive error or other visual problems, he or she should have an eye exam by the age of 6 months, then again at age 3, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). Having a complete eye exam before the child enters school allows enough time to catch and correct any problems while the visual system retains its flexibility.
We believe an eye exam in necessary for the social and academic growth of your child. An exam should definitely be done in their preschool years, but absolutely before entering Kindergarten. We recommend scheduling the eye exam at a time that’s good for your child. Some kids are more focused early in the day, while others come to life after lunch or an afternoon nap. Our office and staff are very child and family-centered. We have a toy box, books, and coloring books to help occupy your child and other siblings during the examination.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., #165 in Alamo. Visit our website at: www.alamooptometry.com.

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