Reading, writing, and using computers are among the visual tasks that young children perform daily during school, whether that is in the classroom or virtually at home. A child’s eyes are constantly in use in the classroom and at play. When his or her vision is not functioning properly, education and participation in sports can suffer.
It is important to understand a few basic issues that can affect your child’s vision so they can learn efficiently and excel both in and out of the classroom. Here are a few factors that we like to discuss during your child’s annual eye examination.
Children and Screens
In recent years, screen time among toddlers and school-aged children has drastically increased due to the booming technology industry. While screen-time may be a nice way to help your child relax, it is important to know the prolonged effects that screens can have on children’s visual and developmental systems.
Mobile media use in children as young as 18 months has been linked to parent-reported delays in speech, poor development of gross and fine motor skills, and reduced problem-solving abilities. Similarly, excessive screen-time use is associated with attention problems such as poor self-control, increased impulsivity, and continuous hyperactivity. These difficulties have been mostly noticed by teachers in a classroom setting, which further solidifies that these issues can influence how efficiently a child learns in a classroom.
Screens also have an effect on the body’s sleep cycle. Using screens before bed can trick the body’s circadian rhythm into thinking it is still daylight. This can lead to a total reduction in sleep time and affects the quality of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It is recommended to discontinue screen time at least one hour before bed to ensure quality sleep for your children.
Common Refractive Errors
A majority of babies, toddlers, and school-aged children are hyperopic (farsighted). In most cases, they do not need glasses for distance or near work, however, significant farsighted prescriptions can lead to the development of amblyopia (“lazy eye”) if left uncorrected.
Although hyperopia is more common in young children, the opposite refractive error, known as myopia (nearsightedness) has become more prevalent in more recent years. High levels of myopic prescriptions have been linked to sight-threatening conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataracts, and myopic maculopathy. Due to these increases in nearsighted prescriptions, it is important for us as optometrists to manage and treat these high prescriptions to the best of our ability.
Myopia Control Contact Lenses
At Parkview Optometry, we are always striving to provide the best care for our patients, which is why we are excited to announce that we are offering MiSight® 1-day contact lenses. MiSight are the first FDA approved daily contact lenses that have been proven to slow the progression of myopia in children ages 8-12.
In previous years, parents have been concerned that contact lenses are unsafe for children due to poor hygiene and contact lens care. However, with 1-day contact lenses, those concerns are virtually eliminated. A 3-year study performed on the MiSight lenses found that:
- 90% of children preferred wearing MiSight 1-day lenses to their glasses
- 90% of children could apply and remove the lenses on their own with proper hygiene etiquette
- 90% of parents reported they were happy with their child wearing MiSight 1-day lenses
A child’s vision consists of more than just their glasses prescription or how well they can see. There is a system of muscles and ocular structures that form the binocular vision system, which helps maintain visual focus on an object to keep images single and clear. Children who have a deficient binocular vision system can report the following complaints:
- Tired eyes when reading
- Losing place while reading
- Loss of interest in activities that require extensive eye use
- Words swimming/jumping around on page
- Headaches and fatigue
- Double vision
- Poor reading comprehension
- Poor hand-eye coordination
It is important to have a binocular vision evaluation performed by a vision therapy-trained optometrist who can determine if further treatment through a vision therapy program may be necessary.
Good vision is key to a child’s development, success in school, and overall well-being. If you are concerned about any of the issues that were mentioned, call us at Parkview Optometry to schedule your child’s eye examination!
Phone: (949) 786-7888