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HEALTHBEAT 4: Children’s eye exams

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Children's eye exams

MOVILLE, IA (KTIV) -- Making sure our eyes are healthy is important for how we interpret the world.

Our vision develops up until the age of seven. But it's important to make sure your child is getting their first eye exam at 6-months-old. That's when the eyes and mind start to learn how to work together and learn how to assess the world.

"Almost 50% of parents have not taken their child in for an eye exam before age six," said Keith Schrunk, Vision Care Clinic Optometrist.

It's a statistic that concerns many optometrists like Schrunk.

"When you think of a child, that's how they develop," said Schrunk. "All their information comes from their eyes, what they're seeing and feeling. It's a big part of development."

To avoid delays, Schrunk said children's eyes need to be checked often by at least six months of age.

"So they can make their first attempt to walk or to grab that object, those kinds of things and you don't want them to become delayed in everything they see," said Schrunk.

If there are no problems, the next milestone is age three to four. That's when children need more detailed vision to learn letters, numbers, and colors.

"If they were born with blurry vision or vision that's less than normal, they don't know that it's not normal," said Schrunk.

So, what should parents be looking for to indicate that there may be some problems?

"Is the child rubbing his or her eyes, are they squinting, are they watery, do they look normal color, is there a pinkish hue, are they stable or are they moving a lot, is their eyelid covering part of the eye?" said Schrunk.

Schrunk said the big difference when working with infants and young children is communication. But they can use instruments to measure many of the things they need.

"They don't have to read the letters," said Schrunk. "They don't even have to recognize pictures. We have the ability to use instruments to estimate their refractive air which is the power of their glasses if they need some. We have ways to measure if their eyes are turned or straight if they have depth perception."

Dr. Schrunk said no matter the age, doctors are looking to make sure they have good vision, make sure their eyes are healthy, and that they are working well together.

Schrunk said not all vision or eye problems in children are obvious and getting an eye exam by an optometrist is so important because they often better analyze how well the eyes work together.

Michaela Feldmann

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