Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eye care tips for parents of preschoolers

Good vision is important for growing kids, especially as they begin reading and going to school. Below are basic tips for parents to help ensure their kids are looking good!

When to Get An Eye Exam
The general wisdom is that all children should have their eyes examined prior to beginning primary school. Identifying vision problems early can be a means for avoiding possible difficulties in the classroom.
However, if vision problems run in the family, it's probably wise to have your child's vision checked by age 3, sooner if you notice physical problems like a lazy eye, or if they have difficulty focusing on and following your finger.

How Often to Go
School-aged children should get their eyes examined every two years. If your child wears glasses they should have their eyes checked annually to monitor any changes in their vision.

Who to See
Optometrist? Ophthalmologist? Optician? It can be a little confusing knowing whom to see, especially for your child's first eye exam. Generally, you should chose an eye care professional based on the type of care your child needs.

Here's a basic overview:
Optician: This is an eye-care professional who has been trained to make and fit eyeglasses and to instruct clients in the use of eyewear and contact lenses. They are not eye doctors and do not perform eye exams, nor do they prescribe glasses or contact lenses.
Optometrist: Also known as a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), this is a licensed eye care professional who has been trained to diagnose and treat vision problems. They can perform eye exams, diagnose and treat eye conditions, and prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Optometrists must receive four years of training and be licensed in order to practice. Optometrists sometimes work in optical stores run by opticians.
Ophthalmologist: That word is a mouthful, but basically, this is a physician who specializes in medical and surgical eye care. Typically, an ophthalmologist completes four years of medical school and follows that up with specialized training in surgeries of the eye and general eye and vision care. Like an optometrist, they can examine the eyes, diagnose and treat eye conditions, and prescribe glasses, and contact lenses; however, the ophthalmologist can also perform simple and complex eye surgeries.

Be On the Look Out
Without a comprehensive eye exam, it's hard to know if your child is suffering from any kind of vision impairment. However, if your child is having trouble with her eyes, she may exhibit specific physical and behavioral signs. Here are some common ones to look out for:

Physical Signs
• One or both eyelids droop
• Iris of one or both eyes appears cloudy
• Excessive tearing in one or both eyes
• Sensitivity to light, excessive blinking in bright light
• Persistent redness in or around the eye(s)
• Swelling or discharge from the eye(s)

Behavioral Signs
• Rubs eyes frequently
• Consistently sits too close to the TV
• Holds items close to face to read
• Squinting to see things close up or at a distance
• Tilts head to one side to see better
• Closes one eye to read, watch TV, or see better

If your child exhibits any of these physical or behavioral signs, or if he sustains an eye injury, take him for a thorough eye exam.

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