Throughout my years of being an optometrist, one of the most common questions I get asked by parents is “when should I have my child’s eyes tested?”. Children’s vision is particularly vulnerable to eye problems and the one thing optometrists are particularly concerned about is the risk of amblyopia, or more commonly known as lazy eye.
Lazy eye arises from the fact that the connection between the eye and the brain is not properly established during childhood, hence, regardless of what treatment is given to the eye at a later stage (glasses, contact lenses, LASIK), their vision will still be poor. Lazy eyes can be avoided and treated generally before the age of 10, afterwards, it would generally be too late for that eye to have any improvement.
Now back to that question of “when should I have my child’s eyes tested?”. I would say before they start school. There are generally two causes of lazy eyes, an eye turn or a very high prescription in the one particular eye. An obvious eye turn is easy to pick up but what about small eye turns? In terms of a high prescription, it is uncommon for children to complain as they’ve grown up being used to seeing out of the one eye and assume it is normal. Remembering my first year out of university, I had a child aged 13 come in for a general eye exam, no complaints whatsoever but actually blind in his right eye, only because of a moderate prescription. His response to his parent’s shock was only “I thought it was normal!”
So the moral of the story is; have your child’s eyes tested, regardless of whether there’s a complaint of not. It could change their future!
P.S Below is a video courtesy of the Optometrist Association detailing the importance of eye testing for kids!