As children head back into classrooms this fall, it’s important their vision is clear so they’re prepared for the school year. EYE-Q Vision Care optometrist Dr. Isha Patel tells us what parents should know about their child’s eye health.
Dr. Patel’s patients range in ages, but she prefers to see them when they’re young.
“Six months we usually say to assess all the ocular health, just to make sure developmentally, they’re okay. At that appointment, really only catches major things, so if there’s something glaring going on, we catch it at that appointment, just to make sure things look good,” said Dr. Patel.
She said parents don’t need to wait for their child’s pediatrician to tell them to see an eye specialist.
Dr. Patel added, “Between three and five years, right around when they’re starting preschool, kindergarten, to make sure that they’re good to go, and then after that every year.”
Even 8-year old Kiersten Borba knows the importance of an annual eye exam.
“Well you need to make sure you have good eye sight, because you really need to see things in life, and I think they just shouldn’t be nervous to come and get their eyes checked,” commented Kiersten.
Dr. Patel understands that lots of children are exposed to screen time on a daily basis. She suggests taking frequent breaks, “We call it the 20-20-20 rule, so every 20 minutes take a break for 20 seconds, look 20 feet away, especially with all the Zooms stuff that’s been going on… Big thing for kids, especially younger kids, is getting outside and playing in the sun. We don’t really understand the mechanism, but for some reason we see that when kids are playing outside and have at least 30 minutes of outside time a day, they’re less likely to develop myopia or near sightedness or develop it slower.”
If you notice your child developing new habits, Dr. Patel said see an eye specialist.
“Are they moving close to stuff, getting really close to the TV, squinting, holding things closer? But some of those things are also just behavioral things… A lot of times especially younger kids, babies will rub a lot, if they are blurry or things like, that they’ll rub at their eyes a lot… Especially if they’re only rubbing one eye, if they have a tendency to only squint one eye when they’re out, bright lights, severe severe light sensitivity,” stated Dr. Patel.
She said early detection is key. Dr. Patel ended, “The earlier we detect things, the earlier we get in there and do something about it, the best chance they have because we have until around eight years before that kind of solidifies, so after they’re eight, there’s much less we can do for them, whereas if we catch something when they’re two or three, they have a lot more time and a lot more growing left, so early detection.”