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Visual Development

Good Vision for the Future

Vision is a learned process just like learning to master abilities such as sitting up, rolling over, crawling, cruising and walking. Baby's vision goes through many ciritical stages of development. The most dramatic changes in vision development are between 6 to 12 months of age. Unfortunately, signs that they are reaching their visual developmental milestones are not as easy for parents and pediatricians to detect and often go unchecked.

Every child should have guidance and opportunity to properly develop good vision. This includes the integration of the process of vision with other sensory systems. In order for sensory-motor abilities to develop effectively, matching different combinations of systems with vision, such as speech and rhythm, should occur during the early years of infancy and childhood.

According to a survey on BabyCenter.com in March, 2005, only 13 percent of mothers with children younger than 2 years of age have taken their baby for a comprehensive well-care eye exam. Many eye conditions do not have early warning signs detected by parents or pediatricians at their well-baby checkups.

Yet 1 out of 10 children are at risk of having an undiagnosed vision problem.

Early detection of irregular vision developmental patterns, visual health problems and/or significant refractive errors can detect and/or prevent vision problems such as signs of disease, vision loss and vision related learning problems, that can have lifelong effects.

Amblyopia, which is the leading cause of vision loss in people younger than 45, can be so easily prevented or reversed, especially during the younger years.

Serious health conditions aside, good visual skills are vitally important to a child's academic and life achievements. If the visual system is inefficient, a child has to work extra hard to keep up with others, or else find they cannot work up to their own potential.

Routine Vision Exams - Stop a problem before it starts

Just like seeing the dentist, it is better to visit your eye doctor BEFORE something is seriously wrong, so that risk factors can be identified, small problems managed and bigger problems avoided. This goes beyond the quick eye health check pediatricians do during their routine exam. They are only looking for physical anomalies and eye diseases. They do not check the development of vision (and neither do most ophthalmologists and some optometrists!). A thorough exam should not only identify problems such as near or farsightedness, astigmatism and general eye health, but also evaluate vision development.

As children get older, they still are often not aware of their own visual impairment. They think everyone sees or uses their visual system the way that they do.

Vision exams need to be viewed as wellness check ups.

Just like going to the pediatrician to get a clean bill of health, children should be checked by their optometrist to make sure their vision is developing properly. If not, poor visual skills can really hinder a child in school, as well as other activities such as sports, causing difficulty with learning and frustration in school.

Poor visual skills are not outgrown. They stay with you throughout life and can prevent people from ever reaching their true potential. The sooner you can identify and treat vision problems, the better.


American Optometric Association (AOA) Exam Frequency Guidelines

According to AOA guidelines, vision exams for ALL healthy pediatric patients should be given at the following times:

  • By 6 months
  • At 3 years of age
  • Before 1st grade
  • Every 2 years thereafter

NOTE: Children who are found to be at risk for visual problems may be examined annually or as recommended by your eyecare professional.

   

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