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If you are a parent reading this article then it is important that you understand the importance of getting your children’s eyes tested. In theory, there is no minimum age to take your child to the Optometrist for an examination. And if you notice a “turn” in your child’s eye then you should have them seen straight away, regardless of how young they are.
If you have no reason to believe your child has any obvious problems with their vision, you should still take them for an eye test once they reach the age of 3 years old. Although at this age they are unlikely to know their letters, the Optometrist can use matching pictures to assess their vision and the health of their eyes can also be checked.
The reason it is important to get your child’s eyes tested at an early age is because at only 7-years-old their eyes are fully developed. What this means is that if there are any problems with their eyes such as a lazy eye, it can only be treated up until the age of 7 years old. Once they get past this age, a lazy eye is not treatable and they will have a weakness in that eye for life. A lazy eye is not treatable by laser eye surgery and glasses will not help either.
If your child has a lazy eye it can be treated providing it is picked up early. The younger your child, the more likely they are to respond to treatment. The most common treatment for a lazy eye is occlusion therapy, which basically involves patching the good eye to ensure the lazy eye develops properly. This patching is normally carried out 1-4 hours per day depending on how lazy the eye is.
The optometrist has a lot of tests at his/her disposal, which can assess the visual development of very young children and babies without needing their attention. If the Optometrist detects a turn in your child’s eyes he may consider referring them to an ophthalmologist who will assess them to see if they need surgery.
In most instances glasses will be sufficient to correct the turn in the eye, but if the turn is particularly large then surgery may be considered to tighten the muscles in the eyes and alleviate the turn. This, if considered, is both cosmetic surgery , as it improves your child’s appearance, but also medical surgery, as it will aid their visual development.
In summary, getting your child’s eyes tested early will ensure that they develop properly and will have no problems progressing into adulthood. Good vision will give your child the best chance to flourish at school in both their academic and sporting activities.