The ideal age to take your child to the ophthalmologist for the first time is 6 months. From there, annual check-ups can help you prevent or correct vision problems that affect your school stage and social development.
Approximately 25% of children have a visual problem and, in a third of cases, vision problems are responsible for school failure . In recent years, the increased use of screens for work and play has made visual demands more demanding, and this has had repercussions. The refractory disorders have increased in recent years, as myopia in the case of children. But the cause is not exclusively due to the hours of screen, but also to the lack of time outdoors and exposure to natural light.
What role does sight play in the development of the child?
Vision is one of the fundamental senses when it comes to carrying out learning during childhood. Vision is key to the acquisition of literacy , motor skills and hand-eye coordination .
Since we are born, sight plays a very important role and helps the baby to have a correct process of development, knowledge of the environment, learning and social relationships. The same happens when the child begins the school stage , since sight contributes to their good school performance. If they do not see well the blackboard, the books, the teacher … the performance of their day-to-day tasks and doing their homework will be affected.
But it is also important when practicing sports, interacting with colleagues and any other leisure activity . Through sight, children can follow the coach’s instructions and acquire motor skills to function successfully in physical activities, interact with their peers and perceive the game scheme or the team’s strategy.
When is the first revision to be carried out?
Sometimes when we decide to take the child to the eye doctor it is because he himself has complained of vision problems. However, the first visit to the children’s ophthalmologist should be at 6 months of age. If all is well, it should be repeated at 3 years old, which is when schooling begins. And from that moment on, we can establish the routine of taking the child to the eye doctor 1 time a year . We must not wait for the problem to arise, but we must anticipate going to a review with the children’s ophthalmologist.
This review includes taking a medical history that collects the family ophthalmological history and is completed with an eye examination by dilating the pupil . Although it is a somewhat annoying test, it is worth it because it provides a lot of information and allows the identification of pathologies that could otherwise be overlooked as refractive problems and less obvious alterations such as strabismus or lazy eye.
How to know if your child has vision problems?
Something that can happen is that the child does not complain that he sees badly. This can happen for two reasons, because it is too small to tell us or because if you have always had a visual problem , you are not aware that you can see poorly or that you could see better. For this reason, observation is very important.
Sometimes it is the teacher who alerts the parents that the child does not see the blackboard well at school. But parents can also watch out for certain behaviors that help them suspect if their child suffers from vision problems. How can we detect it?
- He squints when he has to look from a distance or fix his eyes on something like the blackboard or the television.
- He does not focus his gaze on what is being pointed out to him.
- Your head hurts or you complain that you see double or blurry or that lines or letters are distorted or moved. These symptoms appear at the end of the school day or after doing homework.
- It is very close to the book or notebook to read or write.
- Reading or writing too slowly for what would be normal for their age or skipping lines when reading is also a red flag.
- He sits very close to the television to see it well.
- He does not participate in sports activities that require visual acuity or aim.
- Reading comprehension is very low.
- He covers or winks to see better.
- You have photophobia (strong light bothers you) or has trouble adjusting to seeing in dark environments.
- Frown to read or follow the line of what you are reading with your finger.
- Your eyes become irritated or watery. It blinks too often.
- Stumbles easily , has poor aim, or receives frequent balls or blows in PE class or playing on the playground.
- Tilt your head to look at an object.
What you should know…
- Approximately 25% of children present some visual problem and, in a third of the cases, they are responsible for a possible school failure.
- It is important to go to the children’s ophthalmologist. School check-ups can give a clue about general visual problems (myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism), but they can miss eye pathologies, refractive problems and other less obvious visual disturbances such as lazy eye.
- Complaining of a headache often, seeing double or blurred, especially at the end of the school day or after doing homework, are symptoms that should alert parents.