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Important Information about Pediatric Vision

Properly managing your child’s visual health is critical to developing a platform for success in future endeavours. Though many schools and pediatricians offer vision screening, this does not replace the necessary eye exams provided by your optometrist.

Infant Vision

Your baby’s visual system develops gradually over their first few months. So, at roughly six months of age, you should bring your baby to get their first eye examination. In this appointment, doctors will test for a wide variety of issues. If your child is found to have an eye condition, vision development and optical conditions can be more easily corrected when treatment is begun early. Unless otherwise indicated, your next visit can be at the age of three.


Birth – 8 Months of Age

Milestone achievements for the first four months are your baby following moving objects with their eyes, reaching for things, and gaining accuracy in both of these tasks. To assist the development, use a nightlight or other dim lamps in your baby’s room; change the crib’s position frequently, and your child’s position in it. Keep reach-and-touch toys within your baby’s focus – about eight to twelve inches away from their face. There are several helpful games you can play to facilitate eye movement and coordination, such as ‘patty-cake’ and ‘peek-a-boo’.


8 – 12 Months of Age

Over the following four months, when your baby gains mobility, they can be expected to use both eyes together, gain depth perception, and throw objects with improved perfection. Acts such as crawling facilitate hand-eye coordination. Other useful measures include providing toys your baby can take apart, and items your baby can hold and see simultaneously.


1 – 2 Years of Age

During the course of the following year, coordination continues to develop and abstractions are more accessible. At this time, walking can be encouraged, and items like puzzles, blocks, and balls facilitate optical improvement. There are always measures you can take to help your child’s vision succeed, so during your next eye exam, ask your optometrists about what games or activities may be used to help your child thrive.


Preschool Vision

Over the course of the preschool years, your child will develop visually guided eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills, and visual-motor skills which will set the stage for reading.


It is important to keep an eye on potential visual development issues, including a compromised attention span relative to age, difficulty with coordination during playtime, and behavioural anomalies such as avoiding colouring and puzzles. In the event that any of these issues arise, contact our optical health team to schedule a checkup.


There are several activities that may assist your child in developing these necessary visual skills. Some of these helpful tasks include:

Reading out loud

Letting your child see you reading

Providing a chalkboard and finger paints

Supplying differently shaped and sized blocks

Offering opportunities to play on playgrounds

Giving the chance to learn and develop balance

By the time your child reaches the age of 3, you should seek out a thorough eye exam to ensure proper visual development. In the event that there is an issue, your doctor can provide treatment to address the specific concern. Provided everything is progressing appropriately, the next optical visit is expected for the age of 5.


School Age Vision

Since the majority of information absorbed during school is visual, providing a foundation for a successful education begins with routine eye exams. There are many optical skills employed during the school years, including:

Near vision: the ability to see clearly at 10-13 inches

Distance vision: the ability to see clearly beyond an arm’s reach

Binocular coordination: being able to use both eyes together

Eye movement skills: the ability to aim the eyes accurately, move smoothly, and shift focus quickly and accurately

Focusing skills: being able to keep both eyes accurately focused at the proper distance, while also being able to change focus quickly

Peripheral awareness: the ability to have awareness of things located to the side while staring straight ahead

Eye-Hand Coordination: being able to use the eyes and hands together

Undetected or uncorrected vision issues can cause children to suffer both socially and personally, often resulting in headaches, fatigue, and eyestrain issues. It is important, as a parent, to be aware of potential visual processing issues; and, if any are present, to promptly address them with your family’s optometrist. Some methods of assessing the presence of these issues include:

Losing their place when reading

Avoiding close work

Holding reading material excessively close

Rubbing their eyes frequently

Presence of headaches

Turning or tilting head to use one eye only

Frequent reversals when reading and writing

Omitting or confusing small words during reading

Using finger to maintain place when reading

Performing below potential consistently

Since children most often will not notice visual issues, it is important to visit the eye doctor annually. This way, if needed, our optometrists can prescribe treatment, including vision therapy, eyeglasses, and contact lenses.


Vision Therapy and Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, impacts millions of children every year, occurring when one eye is used less than the other, something that happens for a number of reasons. If one eye is crossed or turns out, the child sees double, so they learn to effectively shut off, or ignore that eye. The same effect can result from one eye being nearsighted and the other being farsighted.


At one point, lazy eye was considered untreatable, unless it was corrected by the age of 8. While there are many optometrists who believe that amblyopia can be corrected with therapy at any point, methods are generally more successful before the age of 8.


Treatments vary depending on the severity of the condition, the child’s age, and the treating optometrist. Typically, when children are young, the strong eye will be patched, allowing the other eye to regain strength and effectiveness. Therapies also include exercises to strengthen the weaker eye. Vision therapy usually takes several hours a week and can be performed in the doctor’s office and at home. It will often correct the underlying reason for the lazy eye. Very small children can improve in a month or two, while older children may take several months to a year to respond.

Technology’s Impact

We live in an era where digital screens consume our lives even as early as 2 years old. As a result, by the year 2050, approximately 50% of the population will be near sighted.


Digital eye strain is a condition caused by visual stress from prolonged screen time. Symptoms include blurry vision, tired eyes, dry eyes, red eyes, and headaches. Research shows that increased screen time in children is a significant risk for the development or progression of near sightedness or myopia. As well, blue light emitted by LED screens and computers causes additional eye strain.


Complete eye exams should be a regular part of every child's health care starting at 6 months old. Children's eye exams include testing visual acuity, eye coordination, ability to focus, eye movement and alignment, depth perception, eye health, and much more.


Sports Vision and Lenses

Sports vision refers to a particular set of optical skills required by your children to engage in sporting activities. Often, it is easy to identify, and even rectify issues related to sports vision. These troubles include:

Dynamic visual acuity: The ability to see objects when they are moving quickly. Improve this skill by identifying letters glued to a rotating turntable.

Visual concentration: The ability to ignore surrounding distractions. Improve this by ignoring a willing friend who will behave erratically in your periphery

Eye tracking: Following an object with your eyes only. Improve this by watching a ball in motion with a book balanced on your head.

Eye-hand-body coordination: How your muscles react to information gleaned through your eyes. Improve this by jumping up and down while catching a ball thrown from different angles.

Visual memory: The ability to process and remember complex, fast-moving images. To improve this look at a picture for a second, turn away, and then reconstruct the image. Increase the time between these steps as you improve.

Peripheral vision: The ability to see things out of the corner of your eye. To improve, try watching TV with your head turned to one side.

Visual reaction time: The speed whereby your brain interprets and reacts. To improve, play catch with your back to your friend, only turning to catch the ball when they say the word.

Focus flexibility: Allows focus on objects at varying distances. To improve, place two similar objects at varying distances, then practice shifting your focus between them.

Depth perception: The means by which you judge distance. Improve this by a friend pointing a straw at you, parallel to the ground; then, at a distance of a couple of feet, practice throwing a toothpick into the straw.

There are many measures that can be taken to improve overall visual performance during sports. The quality of visual performance is best when the eyes are free of injuries. Each sport has different demands, finding the best lens and sports glasses for your child is a great first step to set success.

Sports Frame and Lens Chart

Proper use of sports lenses works to prevent eye-related injuries which is important since:

Every 13 minutes, a person with a sports-related eye injury visits an emergency room

More than 100,000 sports and recreation-related eye injuries occur each year

More than 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented with the use of appropriate protective eyewear

Sporting success increases and injuries lessen, when you focus on your eye health and safety. To make the most out of your athletic endeavours, identify and use the proper safety gear, practice exercises to improve visual performance; and, of course, stay up to date on your annual eye exams.

Your Eyes Are Critical To Sports Performance

Contact your eye care team to find the perfect frame and lens for your needs.

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