Children’s visual systems present special needs and special challenges. The visual system continues to develop after birth and therefore several visual conditions are most effectively treated at very early age. One of these is amblyopia, or “lazy eye”, which often results in permanently poor vision in one eye. There are several causes of amblyopia, and it is often difficult or impossible for parents to detect. There are also tumors that are “children-specific” that an eye examination will detect.
It has been estimated that eighty-five percent of learning relies on the visual system. Consequently, children’s learning is greatly impacted by the way they use their eyes. This means much more than having “20/20” vision. It also depends on having well-functioning focusing, tracking, form discrimination, imagery and sensory integration. These are special visual abilities that are often not tested but have life-long impact. Fortunately there is therapy that will improve visually-related reading and learning abilities as well as strabismus and amblyopia. If you wish information on these topics please click on this link. (Vision Therapy)
A child’s first examination should ideally occur before one year of age. Our office participates in the InfantSEE Program, a national program with former President Jimmy Carter as Honorary Chairman. We provide free examinations for infants less than one year of age. It is the goal of the program to detect and thus effectively treat early childhood visual diseases. Once in school, a child’s vision goes through the most rapid changes of their lives. Depending on the situation, children should be seen every one to two years during school.
School screenings are NOT a substitute for a complete examination. National studies indicate as many as seventy-five percent of children with visual problems are missed in school screenings. In Central Oregon we are fortunate to have better quality screenings, but they still can and do miss eye diseases. Screenings are important for children whose parents can’t or won’t take them for regular eye examinations.