This summer, we’re scouting out answers to some of your frequently asked questions about children’s health. Earlier, we published Children’s Dental Care: Frequently Asked Questions. This week: children’s vision FAQs.

Children's vision care

Nutritional health and exercise will help keep a child’s eyes healthy throughout their life. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2016

How can I tell if my preschooler has vision problems?
The American Optometric Association (AOA) provides the following list of signs that may indicate vision problems among young children:

  • Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
  • Squinting
  • Tilting their head
  • Frequently rubbing their eyes
  • Short attention span for the child’s age
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding
  • Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities

How can an eye doctor tell that my baby or young child needs glasses?
Ophthalmologists use a technique called retinoscopy to determine the refractive error of the eye in pre-verbal children. The examiner uses a retinoscope to shine light into the child’s eye, and the reflection off the retina allows the examiner to measure refractive error and establish whether or not the child needs corrective lenses.

What is “lazy eye”?
From the AOA: “Lazy eye, or amblyopia, is the loss or lack of development of central vision in one eye that is unrelated to any eye health problem.”

According to Dr. Thomas Aller, president of Dr. Thomas A. Aller Optometrist, Inc., “This condition can be 100 percent prevented by early treatment, which is why a four-, three- or even two-year-old may benefit from wearing glasses.”

Will my insurance cover my child’s eye exam?
Pediatric eye care is a required benefit under the Affordable Care Act. Some private plans, however, may allow participants to opt out of vision care for both adults and children. Check with your insurance company to find out if your child has vision coverage.

How can I help my child to like, or at least become accustomed to, wearing glasses?
Sheryl Duerksen, manager of Site for Sore Eyes – Napa, says your best strategy is to involve your child in the process of choosing their glasses, which will help instill a sense of ownership. Additionally, she suggests choosing frames that your child finds appealing, whether it’s a favorite color or a design featuring a popular cartoon character.

Is there anything I can do to strengthen my child’s eyesight?
“Studies indicate that the more time young children spend outdoors, the less likely they are to develop nearsightedness or myopia,” says Dr. Aller. “So, make sure to get your kids out of the house on a regular basis.”

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