It’s that time of the year! You have everything on the school supply list, check. You have all of the new uniforms and clothes, check. You have all of the locker items in order, check. Did we get the annual eye exam to be able to see well in school, maybe not so much?
Did you know that according to both the American Optometric Association and American Academy of Ophthalmology, an exam is recommended for children at the age of 6 months, 3 years and 6 years old? The reason why is to catch any “lazy eye” that can be treated before their visual cortex takes it permanent form.
Amblyopia is also commonly called “lazy” eye. It is the most common cause of vision loss in children. Vision is a combination of the eye and brain working together correctly. If the vision is blurry in one eye or both eyes, then the brain will not develop vision properly and this will cause weak vision in one or both eyes. It is important to detect amblyopia before the age of 6 for maximum treatment and improving vision in the weaker eye before the brain can no longer receive proper vision from that eye. It is important to be able to detect the type of ambylopia your child may have and advise proper treatment during a visit to my office.
Another important aspect of the annual eye exam that can be forgotten about is checking eye health and disease. Children these days are on their devices more than ever. A report released in 2017 found that kids up to age 8 spent an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes on devices and children older than 8 spent an alarming 4 hours and 36 minutes on digital devices. For better health, we should be limiting our screen time to less than an hour a day.
Staring at devices can cause two health issues to occur. First, from looking at a phone for instance, we tend not to blink but to stare, which decreases the amount of tears we produce to lubricate the front surface of the eye. Once this happens over and over again every day, our eye starts to dry up and this causes not only discomfort, but also affects the quality and clarity of our vision. Another aspect that I will save for a future blog post, is the affect of devices on our sleep and melatonin levels. So make sure to stay tuned!