October is Children’s Vision Month and Optometrists across Canada are raising awareness to make Children’s Vision a top health priority for parents across the country. Did you know that 80% of learning is visual, 1-in-4 School-age children has a vision problem, and 61% of parents mistakenly believe they would know if their child was having difficulty with their eyesight? Read-on as we clear up some common misconceptions about Children's Vision.
Myth: If you cross your eyes, they will stay like that. Fact: Although it may cause a few laughs, crossing your eyes will not cause them to stay that way. Our eyes naturally come together when we look at something close so purposely crossing your eyes is simply exaggerating this natural movement. They will return to normal placement. If your child does seem to be crossing one eye constantly, we recommend you contact your Doctor of Optometry for an evaluation. This may be an indication of a more serious condition.
Myth: Children will outgrow a lazy or crossed eye. Fact: Crossed eyes or misaligned eyes, a condition called strabismus, does not correct itself over time. Children do not outgrow strabismus. In fact, if left untreated the condition may become worse over time and lead to permanent loss of vision. For a variety of reasons, the eyes may turn in or out, up or down. Early intervention is key. Treatment for strabismus includes eyeglasses, contact lenses, prisms, patching, vision therapy and in some cases, surgery.
Myth: My child had an eye examination done at school. Fact: Many schools provide a vision screening. There is a big difference between a vision screening and a comprehensive eye examination. Vision screenings are designed to catch certain specific visual issues and recommend referral for further evaluation. However, this does not take the place of a professional eye examination performed by a Doctor of Optometry which includes a full vision and eye health evaluation. 80% of what a child does in school is performed visually. We want to ensure a child’s visual system is functioning at optimum level. An optometric eye examination is covered by the provincial government for children aged 0-18 years.
Myth: Sitting too close to the TV can damage your eyes. Fact: There is no evidence to suggest that sitting too close to the TV will hurt your eyes. Children often develop the habit of sitting close to the TV or holding reading material close because they have the ability to focus on objects closer to their eyes better than adults can. However, this could be a sign of myopia (nearsightedness). Children should have their eyes examined regularly to detect any eye problems. In addition, temporary eye strain or dryness may be experienced from staring at the screen.
Myth: If parents have poor eyesight, their kids will suffer the same eye problems. Fact: There is some truth to this. Many eye problems are genetic, but inheritance is not guaranteed. If you need glasses for good vision or have an eye condition, there is a higher risk your children may inherit the same trait.
Myth: Children cannot have an eye examination until they can talk or know their letters. Fact: Parents often ask, “How can my child tell you which is better, 1 or 2?” We have our ways! Doctors of Optometry have special equipment that allow us to check the visual ability of a child without requiring any feedback from the child at all. In addition to vision, evaluating and monitoring the health of a child’s eyes is also important. In fact, children, even infants or toddlers, can and should have eye exams on a regular basis. We recommend children have their first eye examination by age 3. Of course, we can see children as early as six months of age if there are any concerns.