As a parent, you would want to get your toddler off to a very good start in life in every aspect, that includes eye health. But you might wonder if it is too early for you to send your toddler for an eye test. You might also think your child does not need corrective eyeglasses as he or she seems to be able to see people and things in the surroundings.
Yet an eye test is important, because vision problems detected at an early stage can mitigate any adverse impacts on your child’s future. If you notice something amiss in your child’s eye health, early eye tests can help you nip any eye problems in the bud faster.
Read on to find out why it is important your toddler needs regular eye tests, at least once a year, even at the ages of 4 to 5 years old.
1. Early detection is better than cure
Going for an eyesight test is about preventative care as much as it can be about discovering that your toddler might have eye vision issues to address.
Your healthy child can be vulnerable to many eye diseases. Some of these eye conditions can be treated with medication, whereas others might require more prolonged and expensive treatment.
The fact remains that there are certain eye conditions that are only detectable after regular eye tests with an eye health professional. If left unnoticed and untreated, some eye conditions can exacerbate over time. In worse-case scenarios, these conditions might cause irrevocable damage to your toddler’s vision.
Hence, regular eye tests for your child could help identify any potentially threatening diseases, such as retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye), that could be challenging to detect otherwise. Regular eye tests can also help you detect eye conditions like the “lazy eye” and treat it early.
2. Bad vision would affect your child’s education
If any eye condition is left unchecked and untreated, your toddler’s ability to learn and develop could suffer. Vision problems, including myopia, could hamper the ability to read, engage in recreational and physical activities as well as foster social relationships. If the situation persists, your toddler could lag behind other classmates in terms of learning. Outsiders, including yourself as a parent, might attribute your toddler’s learning problems to behavioural issues, when the actual reason might simply be that your toddler is experiencing eye problems but is unable to articulate them. Thus, regular eye tests are crucial to prevent the negative impact of poor vision for learning and overall life quality.
3. Inculcate good health (including eye) behaviour in your child from young
Consistent eyesight tests can teach your child – that eye health, along with overall physical health and wellbeing, is vital for growth and development. Your toddler would likely continue healthy eye habits as time passes once you instill such habits during infancy. Your optometrist can even offer age-relevant advice for your child to protect against damage or disease. Your child who is unwilling to listen to your parental advice might be more receptive to tips from a healthcare professional.
The eye doctor or an optometrist might ask you if you have observed anything unusual about your child’s behaviour. For instance, you might be asked if you noticed that your child regularly holds items closer to the face in order to look at them more closely. Be prepared to disclose information about your family history, and that of your partner’s. Should there be any genetic eye conditions in your family, the doctor or optometrist might encourage your child to see an eye specialist on a regular basis to keep check.
Your toddler might be too young to get tested by a conventional eye chart. Thus the eye doctor or optometrist might check your child’s vision in a different manner. For example, an eye doctor could examine your child’s peripheral vision by getting your child to focus on a toy across the room, and flashing a light at the edge of the vision to test for response to that light flash. Accompany your toddler to such eye tests if possible. Hopefully, your toddler would stay alert and be in a good mood to ensure cooperation.
Another eye test to expect would be the “eye movement”, or ocular motility test to see if your toddler’s eyes are properly aligned. The eye doctor may ask your child to focus on a toy and cover each eye to assess eye movement. Your child might be suffering from a “lazy eye” if the eyes fail to work in alignment as a pair to fix on the item at hand. When that is the case, your child might be given special glasses or an eye patch to address the issue.
The eye doctor might use a penlight to examine your child’s eyelids, cornea, iris and pupils to ensure that they are healthy. Be sure to inform your doctor if your child has significant eye discharge or tears, because these symptoms might indicate your child has an infection or an allergy.
If you are living in Singapore, there are tons of private eye clinics and polyclinics on the island for you to accompany your toddler for an eye test. As with other aspects of your toddler’s growth and development, eye health should be of utmost concern to you as a parent. When your toddler grows older and eventually obtains a mobile device, use the planoApp to regulate screen use as well.
Amblyopia (for Parents), Kidshealth, Retrieved 23 July 2021.
Preschool Vision (2 to 5 years of age), American Optometric Association, Retrieved 23 July 2021.
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