Eyes, you see, are a very important part of our kids’ bodies—definitely worth looking after (pun intended). So we gathered up a little need-to-know on taking care of our little peepers’ peepers:
Examining the Exam
Ideally the first eye exam takes place at six months, where optometrists will look for abnormalities of the eye, large differences between the two eyes and ocular problems that occur during early childhood such as lazy eye or crossed eyes. The next exam should be done around age three, when optometrists can get a good sense of a child’s overall visual system and ocular health, and deal with any problems that might disrupt the proper development of the visual system. At the very latest, all kids should have had at least one full eye exam before starting school, since undiagnosed visual problems can impede a child’s ability to learn visually and progress at school. The good news—annual optometrist visits for children are covered by provincial health plans. Consult with your family doctor as to when the best time for a visit for your child would be.
What to ‘Watch’ For
While the vast majority of childhood eye conditions have no signs that would be visible to parents, squinting, excessive eye rubbing, turned eyes, complaints of headaches and poor coordination are definite reasons to schedule an eye exam with an optometrist. Many pediatric eye conditions are treatable when caught early, but if they are not addressed, they can prevent proper development of one or both of the eyes.
Protecting from the Sun
All children should wear sun protection for the eyes as much as possible, as UV light damages the tissues of the eye, damage which is cumulative over time and can lead to serious eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration later on in life. (We know, we know, it’s just one more thing to think about…but just think that when we were kids we didn’t wear sunscreen either.) If glasses really aren’t practical with your brood, a wide-brim hat or baseball cap is the next best thing.
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