There are many myths about children’s eyes and eyesight. Don’t sit too close to the TV, eat your carrots, don’t cross your eyes or they’ll get stuck that way. While this myths have been carried on through generations, they don’t represent the whole truth. It’s not harmful to your eyesight to sit close to the television or computer, although it may be a sign of nearsightedness in children. Carrots do contain vitamin A that boosts eyesight, but so do many other foods in a balanced diet. And as we all know, your eyes won’t get stuck permanently crossed.
The Truth About Children’s Eyes and Eyesight
With all these myths floating around about children’s eyes and eyesight, it can be hard to decipher the truth. More than 25 percent of children have eye conditions or trouble seeing clearly, and many develop issues with their eyes and eyesight that require regular eye appointments and check-ups. The majority of eye conditions can be treated more easily upon early detection, so if your child is rubbing their eyes or has light sensitivity, redness, pain, tearing, a white pupil or difficulty seeing or focusing, it’s time to schedule an eye appointment.
The three most common eyesight problems in children are:
- Refractive errors: Refractive errors in children cause the most common eyesight problems that come to mind: nearsightedness (the most common in school-age children), farsightedness and astigmatism.
- Amblyopia: A "lazy eye" caused by crossed eyes or problems with vision. This should be treated early and can be reversed in the preschool years, but may cause irreversible damage if left untreated.
- Strabismus: A misalignment of the eye. Strabismus can be treated by wearing an eye patch over the good eye so that the misaligned eye can adjust. In some cases, treatment may also include surgery or special glasses.
To proactively diagnose and treat eye conditions in children, it is recommended that a child’s eyes be checked:
- At birth – Newborns should be examined for eye and eyesight concerns
- At age 1 - Pediatricians should administer regular eye screenings during checkups
- At 3.5 years - Children should take a vision and visual acuity test
- At age 5 - Children should take another vision test and eye alignment test
- After age 5 – Your child should still have regular, routine eye checkups. Children who wear glasses or contacts should have their eyesight checked annually, and any child experiencing symptoms of eye or eyesight conditions should have an eye appointment scheduled.
Talk to your doctor about ensuring your child's eye health at your next appointment.