Do you know when a child should have their first eye exam?
Could poor grades have anything to do with your child’s vision?
Do you think your child might need glasses?
Parents often have a lot of question when it comes to pediatric eye care. Most wait until school starts to even think about vision care but that is not the best course of action.
The American Optometric Association recommends that the first eye exam occur between 6 and 12 months of age.
Dr. JoAnn Bailey, a local optometrist and Cinnaminson mom with a keen interest in pediatric eye care says, “This (first exam) can be considered a well baby visit and is used to determine if the structures of the eyes and the visual functioning are developing normally." The next eye exam should occur at age three and then every 2 years thereafter unless there are problems. Three eye exams should be done before a child starts school.
What kind of eye problems should parents look for?
According to Bailey, there are many different symptoms that signal vision trouble. Some signs may be as simple as rubbing or closing one eye frequently. Other indicators parents should be on the lookout for include differences in pupil size or color, and drifting eyes (either crossing inward or turning outward). A family history of crossed or lazy eyes is another reason to see the optometrist sooner rather than later.
Dr. Bailey notes that there are also many hidden vision problems that may block learning. Poor reading comprehension, eye strain, messy handwriting, reversal of letters and many other behaviors or characteristics may signal a visual processing issue. If behaviors like this persist, it might be wise to have a full optometric vision evaluation, including a visual information processing evaluation, designed to detect learning related vision problems.
What if my child is faking the need for glasses?
Quite often, children fake it to get glasses because their friends have them. Will a doctor be able to tell?
Dr. Bailey confirms, “Yes, the doctor can tell if the child is faking the need for glasses.We can test the patient’s refractive error objectively with instrumentation that will confirm the eye glass prescription or lack thereof."
Bailey continued, “For some children the act of needing glasses goes deeper. Vision is blurred from a psychological cause such as academic stress, family stress, death in the family. They truly think that glasses will make a difference in their lives or academics. These children sometimes need counseling and referrals to a child psychologist.”
She added that glasses with no prescription are called Plano lenses and they cannot do any harm, as long as thy're made from polycarbonate material. The polycarbonate is UV protective so they actually help defer the sun’s harmful rays.
My child wants contacts, is she old enough?
Dr. Bailey says yes. There is no restriction on age. She has fitted infants who have had a congenital cataract removed as well as those who have very high prescriptions which as she says, "Makes glasses on little faces not practical”.
She also adds that children who play sports actually benefit from contacts because the lenses enhance their peripheral vision.
Dr. Bailey says it's safe for kids to take off the glasses and pop in those contacts. “Typically girls start asking about contacts between the 4th and 6th grade and boys begin a bit later at 5th to 9th grade. The contact materials and replacement modalities of today's technology make contact lens care much easier and thus much safer than years ago.”
What about all of the computer use and gaming? Can this be hurting my child's eyes?
Children today spend so much time glued to computer screens and other hand held devices. It seems as if this would put some sort of stress on their eyesight. What can parents do to help protect their children’s eyes?
“Computer use can contribute to computer vision syndrome and 3D vision syndrome. Symptoms of these are eyestrain, visual fatigue, pain inside or behind the eyes, headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and the like.” Bailey says that patients need education on proper visual hygiene.
What is visual hygiene? Proper visual hygiene means keeping a good working distance from the screen (no closer than 12 inches), taking frequent breaks, keeping computer monitors at the proper eye level and brightness level.
If symptoms continue, a child may need glasses or may have an eye teaming or focusing problem which can be treated with vision therapy.
A Little Background Information
Dr. Jo Ann (Talbot) Bailey grew up in Cinnaminson and currently resides here with her husband, Dan and two daughters. You may recognize her from around town as she is quite a busy lady. She may be your child's lacrosse coach or maybe she was a room mom in your son or daughter's class. You may even work out with her at Outlaw Fitness in Riverton as exercise is a passion of hers.
She is a Cinnaminson "lifer" and graduated from Cinnaminson High School in 1987; received her BS in Science from Bucknell University; attended The New England College of Optometry in Boston, and graduated from there in 1995 as class valedictorian.
She completed her residency in pediatrics and binocular vision at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia. Bailey has lectured all over the world on pediatric eye care, strabismus, amblyopia, and learning related vision problems.
In addition to performing routine eye exams and providing continuing care to children and adults, Dr. Bailey provides vision therapy and rehabilitation to both children and adults. Vision therapy is used to treat patients who are having difficulties in school, adults who have trouble with reading or computer use and in patients with brain injury or developmental delays.
Dr. Bailey shares her vast knowledge by teaching at The Pennsylvania College of Optometry of Salus University. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO) and an associate of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.