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(847) 470-1115
 
Infant's Vision

Your baby has a whole lifetime to see and learn. But did you know your baby also has to learn to see? As a parent, there are many things that you can do to help your baby's vision develop.

At about six months of age, you should take your baby to your doctor of optometry for his or her first thorough eye examination. Things that the optometrist will test for include excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.

The doctor will also test eye movement ability as well as check for eye health problems. These problems are not common, but it is important to identify children who have them at this stage. Vision development and eye health problems can be more easily corrected if treatment is begun early.

Unless you notice a need, or your doctor of optometry advises you otherwise, your child's next examination should be around age three and then again before he or she enters school.

During the first four months of life, your baby should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things, first by chance and later more accurately as hand-eye coordination and depth perception begin to develop.

To help, use a nightlight or other dim lamp 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. Also talk to your baby as you walk around the room; alternate right and left sides with each feeding; and hang a mobile above and outside the crib.
 

Between four and eight months, your baby should begin to turn from side to side and use his or her arms and legs. Eye movement and eye/body coordination skills should develop further and both eyes should focus equally.

Enable your baby to explore different shapes and textures with his or her fingers; give your baby the freedom to crawl and explore; hang objects across the crib; and play "patty cake" and "peek-a-boo" with your baby.

 

From eight to twelve months, your baby should be mobile now, crawling and pulling himself or herself up. He or she will begin to use both eyes together and judge distances and grasp and throw objects with greater precision. To support development don't encourage early walking - crawling is important in developing eye-hand-foot-body coordination; give your baby stacking and take-apart toys; and provide objects your baby can touch, hold and see at the same time.

From one to two years, your child's eye-hand coordination and depth perception will continue to develop and he or she will begin to understand abstract terms. Things you can do are encourage walking; provide building blocks, simple puzzles and balls; and provide opportunities to climb and explore indoors and out.

There are many other affectionate and loving ways in which you can aid your baby's vision development. Use your creativity and imagination. Ask your doctor of optometry to suggest other specific activities.

 
Pre-School Vision

During the infant and toddler years, your child has been developing many vision skills and has been learning how to see. In the preschool years this process continues as your child develops visually guided eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills and the visual motor skills necessary to learn to read.

As a parent, you should watch for signs that may indicate a vision development problem, including a short attention span for the child's age, difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination in ball play and bike riding or avoidance of coloring and puzzles and other detailed activities.

There are everyday things that you can do at home to help your preschooler's vision develop as it should.

These activities include reading aloud to your child and letting him or her see what you are reading. Provide your child a chalkboard, finger paints and different shaped blocks and show your child how to use them in imaginative play. Provide safe opportunities to use playground equipment like a jungle gym and balance beam and allow them time for interacting with other children and for playing independently.
 

By age three, your child should have a thorough optometric eye examination to make sure your preschooler's vision is developing properly and there is no evidence of eye disease. If needed, your doctor can prescribe treatment including glasses and/or vision therapy to correct a vision development problem.

Tips to make your child's optometric examination a positive experience:
Make an appointment early in the day and allow about one hour.
Talk about the examination in advance and encourage your child's questions.
Explain the examination in your child's terms, comparing the E chart to apuzzle and the instruments to tiny flashlights.

Unless recommended otherwise, your child's next eye examination should be at age five. By comparing test results of the two examinations, your optometrist can tell how well your child's vision is developing for the next major step into the school years.

 
School-Age Vision

A good education for your child starts with good schools, good teachers and good vision. Your child's eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. When his or her vision is not functioning properly, learning and participation in recreational activities will also suffer.

The basic vision skills needed for school use are:
Near Vision. The ability to see clearly and comfortably at 10-13 inches.
Distance Vision. The ability to see clearly and comfortably beyond arm's reach.
Binocular coordination. The ability to use both eyes together.
Eye movement skills. The ability to aim the eyes accurately, move smoothly and shift them quickly and accurately.
Focusing skills. The ability to keep both eyes accurately focused at the proper distance and to change focus quickly.
Peripheral awareness. The ability to be aware of things located to the side while looking straight ahead.
Eye/hand coordination. The ability to use the eyes and hands together.

If any of these or other vision skills are lacking or do not functions properly, your child will have to work harder. This can lead to headaches, fatigue and other eyestrain problems. As a parent, be alert for symptoms that may indicate your child has a vision or visual processing problem.

Be sure to tell your optometrist if you child frequently:
Loses their place while reading
Avoids close work
Holds reading material closer than normal
Tends to rub their eyes
Has headaches
Turns or tilts head to use one eye only 
Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing
Uses finger to maintain place when reading
Omits or confuses small words when reading
Consistently performs below potential
Since vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the optometrist at least once a year. If needed, the doctor can prescribe treatment including eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision therapy.
 
Protective Eyewear
Don't wait for your child to become a statistic....add protective sport goggles to their sport gear TODAY!!

The results of a 2001 study by Prevent Blindness America showed over 38,000 people experienced a sport related eye injury and needed emergency room treatment, and in some cases, even further attention. Some of the highest eye injuries occur in children between the ages of 5 to 14 and are caused by participation in basketball, baseball, softball, football, racquet sports, and swimming.

Nearly one-half of eye injuries require costly emergency room care. It's also important to remember that even if an eye injury seems to be minor; it may be serious. Symptoms like loss of vision or severe pain or tenderness in ducts around the eye require immediate medical attention.
Don't Be Duped

If your child plays a sport that requires a helmet or face guard, don't make the mistake of thinking your child's eyes are protected from injuries. Your child's eyes are still exposed to danger from sports equipment or an opponent's fingers penetrating the openings of a face mask.
Likewise, if your child wears glasses, everyday fashion eyewear is not held to the same protective standards as regular eyewear products labeled as protective eyewear for sport use. The lens in your child's regular eyeglasses could easily pop out and puncture or cut the eye. A frame mangled from impact could also injure the eyes and ocular region of the face.
You Can Take Action

The good news is that you can help prevent your child from being sidelined because of a serious eye injury. You can make the decision to protect their eyes as well as the rest of their body by adding protective sport goggles to their equipment bag.
While sport goggles provide significant protection, they cannot guarantee to be unbreakable or guard against all foreseeable impacts. However, a quality pair of sport goggles equipped with polycarbonate lenses can be sight savers since they help keep the eyes and surrounding ocular region safe. For kids who need corrective prescription lenses, the Barrington Eye Care Center can make a pair of prescription lenses that fit into their sports goggles.

 
Children & Contact Lenses

The important thing for parents and their children who wear contact lenses to remember is that contacts are prescribed medical devices. Contact lenses are not a cosmetic accessory. While the wearer may be happy about his or her new look, it's extremely important that the lenses be properly cleaned and worn according to the instruction of the optometrist.

 
~ Impact of Computer Use on Children's Vision ~

When first introduced, computers were almost exclusively used by adults. Today, children increasingly use these devices both for education and recreation. Millions of children use computers on a daily basis at school and at home.

Children can experience many of the same symptoms related to computer use as adults. Extensive viewing of the computer screen can lead to eye discomfort, fatigue, blurred vision and headaches. However, some unique aspects of how children use computers may make them more susceptible than adults to the development of these problems.

 The potential impact of computer use on children's vision involves the following factors:
Children often have a limited degree of self-awareness

Many children keep performing an enjoyable task with great concentration until near exhaustion (e.g., playing video games for hours with little, if any, breaks). Prolonged activity without a significant break can cause eye focusing (accommodative) problems and eye irritation.

Accommodative problems may occur as a result of the eyes' focusing system "locking in" to a particular target and viewing distance. In some cases, this may cause the eyes to be unable to smoothly and easily focus on a particular object, even long after the original work is completed.

Eye irritation may occur because of poor tearflow over the eye due to reduced blinking. Blinking is often inhibited by concentration and staring at a computer or video screen. Compounding this, computers usually are located higher in the field of view than traditional paperwork. This results in the upper eyelids being retracted to a greater extent. Therefore, the eye tends to experience more than the normal amount of tear evaporation resulting in dryness and irritation.

Children are very adaptable

Although there are many positive aspects to their adaptability, children frequently ignore problems that would be addressed by adults. A child who is viewing a computer screen with a large amount of glare often will not think about changing the computer arrangement or the surroundings to achieve more comfortable viewing. This can result in excessive eye strain. Also, children often accept blurred vision caused by nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism because they think everyone sees the way they do. Uncorrected farsightedness can cause eye strain, even when clear vision can be maintained.

 
Children are not the same size as adults.

Since children are smaller, computers don't fit them well. Most computer workstations are arranged for adult use. Therefore, a child using a computer on a typical office desk often must look up further than an adult. Since the most efficient viewing angle is slightly downward about 15 degrees, problems using the eyes together can occur. In addition, children may have difficulty reaching the keyboard or placing their feet on the floor, causing arm, neck or back discomfort.

 
Children often use computers in a home or classroom with less than optimum lighting

The lighting level for the proper use of a computer is about half as bright as that normally found in a classroom. Increased light levels can contribute to excessive glare and problems associated with adjustments of the eye to different levels of light.

 
 
 Steps to Visually-Friendly Computer Use
Here are some things to consider for children using a computer
Children have different needs to comfortably use a computer. A small amount of effort can
help reinforce appropriate viewing habits and assure comfortable and enjoyable computer use.


Have the child's vision checked. This will make sure that the child can see clearly and comfortably and can detect any hidden conditions that may contribute to eye strain. When necessary, glasses, contact lenses or vision therapy can provide clear, comfortable vision, not just for using the computer, but for all other aspects of daily activities.

Strictly enforce the amount of time that a child can continuously use the computer. A ten-minute break every hour will minimize the development of eye focusing problems and eye irritation caused by improper blinking.

Carefully check the height and arrangement of the computer. The child's size should determine how the monitor and keyboard are positioned. In many situations, the computer monitor will be too high in the child's field of view, the chair too low and the desk too high. A good solution to many of these problems is an adjustable chair that can be raised for the child's comfort, since it is usually difficult to lower the computer monitor. A foot stool may be necessary to support the child's feet.

Carefully check the lighting for glare on the computer screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of the monitor. When this occurs, the desk or computer may be turned to prevent glare on the screen. Sometimes glare is less obvious. In this case, holding a small mirror flat against the screen can be a useful way to look for light sources that are reflecting off of the screen from above or behind. If a light source can be seen in the mirror, the offending light should be moved or blocked from hitting the screen with a cardboard hood (a baffle) attached to the top of the monitor. In addition, the American Optometric Association has evaluated and accepted a number of glare screens that can be added to a computer to reduce glare. Look for the AOA Seal of Acceptance when purchasing a glare reduction filter.

Reduce the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. Often this is very simple in the home. In some cases, a smaller light can be substituted for the bright overhead light or a dimmer switch can be installed to give flexible control of room lighting. In other cases, a three-way bulb can be turned onto its lowest setting.
Children have different needs to comfortably use a computer. A small amount of effort can help reinforce appropriate viewing habits and assure comfortable and enjoyable computer use.

 

Dempster Eye Center 5901 Dempster St. Suite 101 Morton Grove, IL 60053 Phone: (847) 470-1115

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