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5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

Your child’s vision is their primary window into the world around them. Keeping their eyesight healthy is an important part of allowing them to experience life to the fullest.

Here are 5 tips on how to protect and improve your child’s eye health:

1. Take them to the eye doctor for routine eye exams

One of the most important take-aways from any article you read on the subject of keeping your child’s vision and eyes healthy, is the need to keep up with routine comprehensive eye exams.

Although your kid’s school may perform vision screenings, these tests can only detect the most basic issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or severe amblyopia. They are not equipped to check for eye diseases that can affect your child’s long-term ocular health, or binocular vision disorders that can hinder their ability to learn.

Our Houston eye doctor will be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for the presence of these and other conditions. If ocular diseases or vision disorders are detected, your eye doctor will have the equipment and expertise to properly treat them.

2. Limit their screen time

Screens are an ever-present part of our lives. Children can spend hours every day texting, playing video games, watching television, and more. It is all-too-easy to spend way too much time on these digital devices, causing symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eye
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain

Excessive blue light, like the kind that comes from these screens, interferes with sleep and is also thought to increase the risk of macular degeneration later in life.

To prevent symptoms and protect your child’s long-term vision health, limit their screen time, when possible, to approximately one hour, and devices should be turned off a few hours before bedtime to allow your child to wind down.

3. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and get exercise

As with every part of the body, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the long-term health of your child’s eyes.

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote eye health. Good sources include fish such as salmon and herring. For vegans and others who don’t eat fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also a great option. 

Leafy greens and fruits are also important, as they’re high in vitamins A, C and E, which are all important for the development and maintenance of healthy vision.

Along with a healthy diet, you should encourage your child to get up and exercise. Physical activity is good for the whole body, and that includes the eyes.

Bonus points if you can get your child outside, as sunlight and outdoor play have been shown to slow or even prevent the development of myopia. Just make sure your child wears sunglasses and a sun hat — UV rays have a cumulative effect that could lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration later in life.

4. Help them avoid eye injuries

Eye injuries are an all-too-common occurrence, especially among children.

If you have little ones at home, make sure that paints, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals and irritants are put away somewhere safe. If these ever get into their eyes, they can cause severe damage to your child’s visual system, including permanent loss of vision.

For contact and ball/puck sports, ensure your child wears the right eyewear to protect their eyes from accidental impacts or pokes. Helmets should also be worn where the sport warrants it, to prevent concussions and other head injuries that can have an effect on vision.

5. Reduce eye infections

Even small, common infections such as pink eye can have an impact on your child’s vision.

Hands are some of the most bacteria-filled parts of our bodies. Your child should learn not to touch their eyes with their unwashed hands, as this is the primary way of introducing germs to the eye that may result in infection. 

On a similar note, if you have contact lens wearers, be sure to teach them to wash their hands each and every time they put in or take out their contact lenses. They should also learn to store and clean their lenses strictly according to their eye doctor‘s instructions and should change lenses according to their intended schedule. Daily contacts should be changed daily, monthly contacts, monthly.

For more information on how best to protect and improve your child’s eyesight, contact Optomedica Eye Consultants in Houston today.

Q&A

Can I rely on the vision screenings at my child’s school to catch vision and eye health issues?

No. School-based vision screenings check for basic visual acuity. Even if your child has perfect 20/20 vision, there may still be issues with visual skills or undetected eye diseases that these types of screenings are not equipped to catch.

It is important not to rely on school vision screenings as a replacement for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. During these visits, your eye doctor will be able to assess your child for vision skills such as:

  • Eye teaming ability
  • Convergence and divergence skills
  • Tracking and focusing
  • Visual accommodation

They will also be able to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus
  • (Rarely) pediatric glaucoma or cataracts

These and other conditions can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained optometrist as part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Can vision problems be misdiagnosed as ADHD/ADD?

It is unfortunately common for learning-related vision problems to go undetected. These vision problems can often mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, leading to misdiagnosis and mistaken treatment.

As many as 1 out of every 4 school-age children suffers from some form of visual dysfunction. If not properly treated, a child may struggle throughout their entire school career, harming their learning and possibly their long-term self-confidence.

Are Contact Lenses Safe For Young Children?

Here’s a question we often get at our practice: Is my child too young for contact lenses?’ This is an important question, and the answer may surprise you.

For children with myopia (nearsightedness), contact lenses can be a convenient method of vision correction. It allows kids to go about their day without having to worry about breaking or misplacing their glasses, and enables them to freely participate in sports and other physical activities.

Local Contact lens supplier near you in Houston, Texas

Some children and young teens may ask their parents for contact lenses because they feel self-conscious wearing glasses. Contact lenses may even provide children with the confidence boost they need to come out of their shell. Moreover, these days, it is very popular for children to wear single-use one-day disposable soft contacts, since there is no cleaning or maintenance involved.

Some parents may deny their child’s request for contacts due to concerns about eye health and safety. There’s no reason to worry: contact lenses are just as safe for children as they are for anyone else.

Optomedica Eye Consultants Eye Clinic and Eye exam, contact lenses, myopia in Houston, Texas

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Our Houston eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.

At Optomedica Eye Consultants, we provide children, teens, and patients of all ages with a wide variety of contact lenses. If you’re concerned about the safety of contacts for your child, we’ll be happy to explain and explore ways to ensure maximum safety, optimal eye health and comfort. To learn more or to schedule a pediatric eye exam for contact lenses, contact us today.

What Are the Risks of Having My Child Wear Contact Lenses?

Local Eye exam, contact lenses, myopia in Houston, Texas

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A study published in the January 2021 issue of The Journal of Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics found that kids aren’t at a higher risk of experiencing contact lens complications.

The study followed nearly 1000 children aged 8-16 over the course of 1.5-3 years to determine how contact lenses affected their eye health.

The results indicate that age doesn’t have an effect on contact lens safety. In fact, the researchers found that the risk of developing infections or other adverse reactions was less than 1% per year of wear — which is comparable to contact lens wearers of other ages.

But before you decide that contact lenses are right for your child, you may want to consider whether your child is ready to wear them. During his or her eye doctor’s appointment, the optometrist may ask about your child’s level of maturity, responsibility, and personal hygiene. Since many children are highly motivated to wear contacts, they tend to display real maturity in caring for their lenses. That said, in the initial stages, parents may need to play an active role, as their child gets used to inserting and removing the new contact lenses.

It’s important to note that just as with any other medical device, contact lenses are not risk-free. Anyone who wears contact lenses has a chance of developing eye infections or other complications with contact lenses. However, when worn and cared for according to your eye doctor’s instructions, contact lenses are low-risk and perfectly safe for children and teenagers.

So, go ahead and bring your child in for a contact lens consultation! We’ll help determine if your child is ready for contacts and answer any questions you or your child may have. To schedule your child’s contact lens fitting or eye exam, contact Optomedica Eye Consultants in Houston today.

Call Optomedica Eye Consultants on 281-769-7145 to schedule an eye exam with our Houston optometrist.

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Just in case you missed them, here are some of our previous blog posts :

Eye Dangers in the Dorm – Eye Health for College Students

Ultraviolet Light and your Eyes

Keeping an Eye on Cataracts

3 Benefits of Anti-Glare Coating

Annual Eye Exams for Children

Kids Eye Care Katy TX at Optomedica Eye Consultants

kids eye care - Optometrist - Houston, TXThese are some common questions moms and dads ask about eye care for kids:

  • When should I bring my little one in for his or her first eye exam?
  • How do I know if my toddler has a vision problem?
  • Should I be concerned about that turned in eye, or will it correct itself?
  • Why do I need to bring my child in for an eye exam every year, if the teacher or school nurse didn't say there was anything wrong?
  • My child complains about headaches, and I heard it could be related to eyesight. Is it?

Here is some information about children's eye exams and pediatric eye care from your Houston optometrist at Optomedica Eye Consultants.

Call Us 281-769-7145 Schedule an Eye Exam Online

Children's eye exams are really critical. Vision problems are thought to impact 5 to 10% of pre-schoolers and 25% of school children. Detecting such problems as early as possible can make a big difference. Early intervention is associated with better recovery and prevention of vision loss. Furthermore, since eyesight can affect learning, an untreated eye condition can put a child at a disadvantage in school.

 

Children need the following basic visual skills for learning:

  • Near vision
  • Distance vision
  • Eye teaming (binocularity) skills
  • Eye movement skills
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Eye/hand coordination

When should kids have their eyes examined?

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a preliminary eye exam for infants between 6 and 12 months; then, at 3 years old during kindergarten; and again at 6 years old before starting 1st grade. Throughout school, the general advice is to have an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Kids who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses should have an eye exam every year, or according to their eye doctor's recommendations.

In Texas, students attending public or private preschools are required to have vision screening tests as specified by the Board of Education Vision and Hearing Screening Requirements. All 4 year olds, kindergarten entrants and all other first-time entrants; subsequent vision screening is required for 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th graders. Pediatric eye exams in Houston are available at Optomedica Eye Consultants.

Booking your child's Eye Exam near Katy

booking a kids eye examOur optometrist near Katy, TX often gets referrals from school nurses, pediatricians or family doctors who suspect an eye problem during a routine vision screening test. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to help them diagnose and potential vision problems and treat them effectively.

Scheduling an eye exam should take into account your availability as well as the child's schedule. Our Houston eye doctor's office is open 6 days a week, until 6pm most days. We recommend you choose a time when your child is usually alert and happy. Most children (and their parents) are less nervous if they are prepped for the test. Here is what you can expect at your kid's pediatric eye exam:

Eye exams are tailored to the child's age, but generally a pediatric eye exam includes a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health examination and a consultation with the parent and child (if old enough) regarding the results of the eye exam.

Before the appointment, you may be asked fill out a simple form about your child's medical history and eyes. The case history form will include questions from birth until now, like whether he or she was premature and developed normally or if there were delays. These help us get a better idea of the kinds of eye conditions to look out for. The form will also inquire about your child's medical history, including medication, procedures and allergies.

Let us know if you notice your child rubs his eyes a lot, or blinks more often than normal, or anything else out of the ordinary, like not making eye contact or gazing at an object, having trouble reading in school and the like. Also, if your child already took a vision screening test at school or at the doctor, please let us know the results.

As your eye doctor, we will also want to know about previous ocular diagnosis and treatments involving your child, such as possible surgeries and glasses or contact lens wear. Be sure you inform your eye doctor if there is a family history of eye problems requiring vision correction, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, strabismus / misaligned eyes or lazy eye / amblyopia.

Eye and vision problems that affect children

Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism (refractive errors) are some of the main eyesight problems we diagnose, but there are other eye conditions that are common in children so we test for them also during a pediatric eye exam:

  • Convergence insufficiency. This is the inability to keep the eye comfortably aligned for reading and other near tasks. Convergence insufficiency can often be successfully treated with vision therapy, a specific program of eye exercises.
  • Amblyopia. Also commonly called "lazy eye," this is decreased vision in one or both eyes despite the absence of any eye health problem or damage. Common causes of amblyopia include strabismus (see below) and a significant difference in the refractive errors of the two eyes. Treatment of amblyopia may include patching the dominant eye to strengthen the weaker eye.
  • Strabismus. This is misalignment of the eyes, often caused by a congenital defect in the positioning or strength of muscles that are attached to the eye and which control eye positioning and movement. Left untreated, strabismus can cause amblyopia in the misaligned eye. Depending on its cause and severity, surgery may be required to treat strabismus.
  • Eye teaming problems. Many eye teaming (binocularity) problems are more subtle than strabismus. Deficiencies in eye teaming skills can cause problems with depth perception and coordination.
  • Focusing problems. Children with focusing problems (also called accommodation problems) may have trouble changing focus from distance to near and back again (accommodative infacility) or have problems maintaining adequate focus for reading (accommodative insufficiency). These problems often can be successfully treated with vision therapy.

Eye testing for pre-school children

Young children who don't know how to read may not be able to read the letters on the Big E chart, but they can - and should - still have an eye exam. We know young kids can be shy and nervous, so we have some special eye exam tests that are easy and provide objective results that don't necessarily require patient input. Here are some of the techniques we use to test children's vision:

  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observing how it reflects from the retina (the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye). This advance test helps eye doctors determine the child's eyeglass prescription.
  • Random Dot Stereopsis uses dot patterns to determine how well the two eyes work as a team.
  • LEA Symbols for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, except that special symbols in these tests include an apple, house, square and circle. 

Infant Eye Tests

We provide free eye exams for baby! Find out more about the InfantSEE program here.

A baby's eyesight develops over time. Babies can see when they are newborns, but the visual system continues to strengthen during the first year. During the first year, vision is so important to development; that's why baby should have an eye exam between 6 to 12 months of age, and that is why we provide infant eye exams for free. To assess whether your infant's eyes are developing normally, your eye doctor may use one or more of the following tests:

  • Preferential looking involves using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes. In this way, vision capabilities can be assessed.
  • Tests of pupil responses evaluate whether the eye's pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light. 
  • "Fixate and follow" testing determines whether your baby can fixate on an object (such as a light) and follow it as it moves. Infants should be able to perform this task quite well by the time they are 3 months old. 

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Vision and learning

children playing drawing - eye care - eye exam - Houston, TXIn school, 80% of learning depends on your eyes, so give your child a leg up, and get a thorough eye exam. Undetected vision problems can put them at a significant disadvantage. Be sure to schedule a complete eye exam for your child prior to the start of school. Learn more:

Thank you for visiting Optomedica Eye Consultants

  • This service offers early detection of potential eye and vision problems at no cost regardless of income or ability to pay. It is a one-time, comprehensive eye and vision assessment for babies, usually conducted between the ages of 6 and 12 months.
  • Because changes in your child’s vision can occur without you or your child noticing them, your child should visit the eye doctor every year or more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist. Remember, school vision or pediatrician’s screenings are good, but they are not a substitute for a thorough eye exam.