If you’ve ever taken a look around at your friends and family members, perhaps you’ve noticed that the majority of them wear glasses or contacts. It’s not just your imagination; about 75 percent of the American population requires some type of vision correction. It’s important to remember that it’s not just adults who need glasses or contacts to counteract the diminishing vision abilities that come with old age. Children are subject to vision problems as well, and the earlier they are detected, the better they can be handled.
Basic Information About Your Child’s Vision
An infant’s vision develops slowly. For the first few months of her life, your baby can only clearly see objects that are within 8 to 10 inches of her face. It takes until about her 12th to 16th week for more distance objects to look clear. A year of very important vision development then begins, as your child obtains depth-perception, eye-body coordination, and eye-hand coordination. There are countless games and toys targeted for young children to support this development.
When Problems Begin
If your child is going to exhibit vision problems, the signs may begin as early as 18 months to 4 years old. Roughly 4 percent of children will display signs of a crossed or wandering eye, while 2 percent have one eye become more farsighted than another. Though not incredibly alarming on their own, left untreated these conditions can lead the stronger eye to become dominant as the brain ignores the weaker eye, potentially leading to vision loss by the age of 9 or 10.
But don’t worry, there are many different ways to check on your child’s vision. By four months of age, your baby should be able to follow or track an object with her eyes as it moves across her field of vision. All signs of misaligned eyes, which can be normal after birth, should also disappear by four months of age. If either of those milestones does not occur, it’s time to speak to a vision specialist.
Other problem signs in children include eyes that flutter quickly from side to side or up and down, eye pain and discomfort, redness that doesn’t go away quickly, and eyes that are water and overly sensitive to light. Frequent eye-rubbing, squinting, and even low grades in an older child can all be signs of vision problems.
While your child’s physician can provide valuable advice about eye problems, it’s best to see a professional pediatric ophthalmologist if you suspect your child is suffering from vision difficulties.