This month we’d like to talk with you about Preschool Vision for children ages 2 – 5.
According to the American Public Health Association, about 10% of preschoolers have eye or vision problems. However, children this age generally will not voice complaints about their eyes.
Parents should watch for signs that may indicate a vision problem, including:
- Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Tilting their head
- Frequently rubbing their eyes
- Short attention span for the child’s age
- Turning of an eye in or out
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding
- Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities
If you notice any of these signs in your preschooler, we encourage you to set up a comprehensive eye and vision examination with us.
Understanding the Difference Between a Vision Screening and a Comprehensive Eye & Vision Examination
It is important to know that a vision screening by a child’s pediatrician or at his or her preschool is not the same as a comprehensive eye and vision examination by an optometrist. Vision screenings are a limited process and can’t be used to diagnose an eye or vision problem, but rather may indicate a potential need for further evaluation. Vision screenings may miss as many as 60% of children with vision problems.
Passing a vision screening can give parents a false sense of security, say eye doctors. Many preschool vision screenings only assess one or two areas of vision. They may not evaluate how well the child can focus his or her eyes or how well the eyes work together. Generally color vision, which is important to the use of color-coded learning materials, is not tested. By age 3, your child should have a comprehensive eye and vision examination to make sure his or her vision is developing properly and there is no evidence of eye disease. If needed, we can prescribe treatment, including eyeglasses and/or vision therapy, to correct a vision development problem. With today’s diagnostic equipment and tests, a child does not have to know the alphabet or how to read to have his or her eyes examined. Here are several tips to make your child’s eye examination a positive experience:
- Make an appointment with your eye care clinic early in the day. Allow about one hour.
- Talk about the eye examination in advance and encourage your child’s questions.
- Explain the examination in terms your child can understand, comparing the E chart to a puzzle and the instruments to tiny flashlights and a kaleidoscope.
Your child’s next eye examination should be at age 5. By comparing test results of the two eye examinations, we can tell how well your child’s vision is developing for the next major step into the school years.
What Parents Can Do to Help with Preschool Vision Development
Toys, games and playtime activities help by stimulating the process of vision development. Here are several things that can be done at home to help your preschooler continue to successfully develop his or her visual skills:
- Practice throwing and catching a ball or bean bag
- Read aloud to your child and let him or her see what is being read
- Provide a chalkboard or finger paints
- Encourage play activities requiring hand-eye coordination such as block building and assembling puzzles
- Play simple memory games
- Provide opportunities to color, cut and paste
- Make time for outdoor play including ball games, bike/tricycle riding, swinging and rolling activities
- Encourage interaction with other children.
If your preschool child has never had a Comprehensive Eye Examination, we encourage you to schedule one today! Please contact us at (757) 966-2206.
ABOUT OUR EYE CARE CLINIC
Since 2010, our eye doctors have provided families in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake with the best eye care possible. Our eye clinic is rooted in the philosophy of good old fashioned honesty and customer service – and our patients appreciate that. Our eye doctors and staff can provide a comprehensive eye examination, vision therapy, eye exams, glasses, contacts, co-management of surgical patients, and more.