Benefits of Routine Eye Examinations

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on July 11, 2011 12:45 pm

The British Columbia Association of Optometrists (BCAO) and American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children receive their first eye examination within the first year of life.  According to the AOA, the percentage of school-aged children who have visual concerns is 25 percent, or one in every four children. Major optometric associations recommend that children have routine eye examinations. 

What are the benefits of routine eye examinations? Routine eye examinations can rule-out sight threatening eye and health diseases or disorders.  They can prove a preventive measure, as well as, a resource for monitoring health related issues. 

Routine eye examinations can provide a baseline for which future eye health can be compared.  The determination of an accurate prescription can result in comfortable, clear vision. 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF AN EYE EXAM

As a child, having an appointment with a healthcare professional, can be an intimidating experience. Children need to know that the “eye-doctor” is there to help people see better.  Not all optometrists work, or work well with children.  Be certain that you find an optometrist who you are comfortable with having your child see for their optometric examination. 

Optometrists are unique in that, they are frequently trained to be prepared for all ages, and intellectual quotient (IQs). Many optometrists will use visually stimulating devices to work with infants to very young children. A difficulty for younger children is that they are still developing their language and comprehensive skills.   Therefore, an optometrist may not rely upon their verbal expressions for a diagnostic impression. 

SIGNS OF VISUAL DIFFICULTIES

Your child may need an eye examination if they complain or appear to be having difficulty with the following:

*  sitting close to a television or computer monitor
*  complaints of headaches, blurred vision, red eyes
*  eye rubbing, squinting, or closing of eye
*  turned or crossed eyes
*  reading comprehension or difficulty reading
*  apprehension to read or lack of desire
*  reduced attention to detail while coloring or writing
*  holding books or other reading material at an unusual distance
*  tilting of head
*  light sensitivity
*  children who were born prematurely
*  history of eye injury
*  family history of eye related diseases
*  developmental delays

PREPARING A CHILD FOR AN EYE EXAMINATION

Children react to your perceptions, fears, and stigmas.  If you voice a negative reaction to a healthcare professional, then your child is more apt to feel discomfort when having an optometric examination.  Be optimistic, displaying concern where concern is needed, but displaying enthusiasm for any required visual corrective devices that improve your child’s eyesight.

THE BENEFITS OF GLASSES IN THE CLASSROOM

Children are typically prescribed glasses for three visual conditions; Myopia (near-sided), Hyperopia (farsighted); and/or Astigmatism.  In some cases, children may require corrective eyewear for treatment of Strabismus (turned eye); and/or Amblyopia (lazy eye).

Children who receive corrective eyewear will not only see better, but are often known to have a measurable improvement in their academics.  It has been found that corrective lenses help with attention, comprehension, and motivation.  

When a younger child is required to wear glasses, it has been recommended by eye professionals that they be introduced to their new peers wearing the prescriptive eyewear.  The rationale, is that a child who is wearing a pair of glasses sets a precedent placing the “glasses” as a fixture of their physical makeup.  Therefore, avoiding the sometimes awkward and  “new” glasses phase. 

OVERCOMING THE STIGMATIZATION OF GLASSES AND OTHER OPTOMETRIC AIDES

Children mock and name call others who appear different.  It is important that children are taught that different should be embraced not ridiculed.  

Allow the child to select glasses that suit their personal style and sense of fashion. Please be aware the frame selection needs to be suitable for the prescription lenses. 

BE PROACTIVE PARENTS

As a parent be proactive, teach your children that their personal worth and value is derived from within their own being, not from another individual or group of individuals.  If your child is capable of employing self-love, acceptance, and the value of personal self-worth, then the stigmatization of glasses will never have a negative influence.  Parents need to provide support, optimism, enthusiasm, and encouragement.  They should employ a spirit of excitement, not reservation about their child’s need for perspective eyewear.   Parents should not mock or belittle others who have a need for perspective eyewear.  If a parent does so and their child eventually needs perspective eyewear, then they may internalize the negative jest, causing damage to their psyche. 

PARENTS AND TEACHERS

Teachers can prove a good barometer on how a child is adapting to their eyewear.  In many cases, teachers are the frontline for optometrists, because they may notice that a child appears to be having difficulty reading; comprehending assignments; taking notes from a chalkboard; reporting headaches; appearing stressed over visually demanding tasks; and/or behavioral problems related to their attention, moods, and interaction with peers.     

Parents should take teachers reports seriously.  It is important that if your child is having difficulty in the classroom that you rule-out all possible causes and effects.  It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to be certain that all children receive routine examinations.  Remember that visual aides are intended to improve your life not prove a detriment. 

by Dr. Asa Don Brown and Dr. Tracy Lynn Brown




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

11 comments on “Benefits of Routine Eye Examinations”

  1. Dan Moller says:

    I wear prescription glasses and I agree that an annual eye exam is good even for those who think they don’t have any eye defects. Additionally, no matter how observant as parents we think we are, there are still symptoms of eye deterioration that we can’t see unless a specialized test is performed. Starting early on in life could help prevent a lot of eye problems so I salute you for recommending that. I agree that it is especially important to monitor a person’s eyes while they’re developing since a lot could affect it along the way.

  2. Chris Montoya says:

    I find that if the parents alternate wearing glasses with their contacts it is an easier transition for the child. Parents model healthy behavior this way. Showing hockey players and other athletes wearing glasses (especially in the child’s sport) also helps. Allowing the child to select their eyewear, as you mention, is a major plus. Good article.

    Dr Chris Montoya

    1. Dear Dr. Chris Montoya,

      First of all, thank you for your feedback. Your additional advice is well needed in this culture of anti-social thoughts towards glasses. Although, with major labels offering their name (Ed Hardy, Nike, Harley Davidson, etc) the trend and acceptance of glasses has increased. Equally, it is very important that glasses, at least safety glasses are worn when playing sports.

      Again, I am very appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Dear Freida Perham,

    Thank you for your time, review and thoughtful comments regarding “regular health insurance plans.” It is something that we rarely consider, but is an essential aspect of life. Many years ago, I had two separate friends who lost their sight due to unforeseen accidents, both were psychologically unprepared for these losses. Moreover, I know the financial background of both of these friends and their dealings with the financial obligations regarding the loss of their eye sight. One friend had his parents to depend upon, as well as, a good healthcare plan. The other friend was one of my roommates at the time, and unfortunately, this particular friend struggled financially. Freida, as you have pointed out, it is prudent that we are prepared for such unforeseen accidents and diseases. I agree that if it is financially within a persons means, that they should consider having a sound insurance plan when dealing with health related matters.

    Again, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Regular health insurance plans protect you against financial losses due to unexpected eye injuries or disease. Many children’s eye injuries happen at home in highly-preventable accidents. In order to ensure that your home is a safe haven and not a danger zone for your children, there are several steps you’ll want to take in order to prevent any future eye injuries.

  5. Mandy Smith says:

    I hadn’t considered pts mentioned in the article. Great Article thx Mandy

    1. Dear Mandy,

      Thank you for your review and thoughtful comments.
      I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  6. cherie carter says:

    Enjoyed the article. As a mother with ten children who have needed glasses since early years, I am aware of the benfits of early detection. I have always tried to make sure my children liked the glasses they chose. I am fully aware of the impacts on one’s self esteem from the name calling of peers as i went through that as a youth. My glasses made me look older and were not flattering. I did not want my children to go through that . My family has been served well by optometrists in this community. I was not aware that children could be seen as early as one years old. Since there is history of eye problems in my family that is information I can pass on to my children so my grandchildren will benefit. Thank you for all the information. Great Article!

    1. Dear Cherie,

      I am appreciative of not only your feedback, but of your thoughtful comments. I can imagine that having a familial history of eyewear was concerning for you and the life of your children. It is good to know that optometrists and optometric specialists have served you well in your community. It is unfortunate that the glasses you wore as a child made an negative impression upon your life, but it sounds like that same negative experience became a beacon of hope for your children. While glasses remain stigmatized in some circles, it is encouraging that the fashion industry has helped with the style and fashion of glasses, making glasses less intolerable and more acceptable.

      Again, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  7. Tracy says:

    Once again thank you for your thought provoking article. Knowing that the majority of our learning is visual it only makes sense to confirm that our children can see clearly and comfortably. As a mother and optometrist I strongly recommend that all children have a full eye health examination before the age of 3, and ideally during they first year and then annually after. Young children will seldom report difficulties with vision as they do not know that what they are experiencing is not the norm. This is how it has always been for them, this is their norm. Most children who require spectacles are able to function without them. The spectacles help their eyes develop and allow them to function at their most efficient levels. It is amazing to witness how a pair of glasses can change and improve a child’s life.

    Thank you again for your inspiring words.

    Tracy

    1. Dear Tracy

      I thank you for your thoughtful review and support of this article. It is good to know that perspective eyewear can not only offer comfort and clarity for the eyes, but offers hope for those who may have otherwise had a challenging life without them.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

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