Choosing the right glasses for your child

Just the thought of buying eyeglasses for your child can make you want to pull your hair out. First, there is the initial selection to consider. Second, you must consider what your child is willing to wear. Third, which eyeglasses will be the most durable?

Then there is the pressure from your child, who is likely more worried about what the other kids might say and if their glasses look cool to others.

We’ve seen how stressful this process can be. Don’t worry, we’re here to help make it a lot smoother for everyone involved.

As noted by Liz DeFranco of AllAboutVision.com, there are other variables to this journey such as what kind of glasses are needed (near- or farsighted) and how often will they be worn.

Here are DeFranco’s 10 items to consider when buying kids’ eyewear.

1. Lens Thickness

It’s important to consult with the optician about the eyeglass prescription before looking at frames. Stronger lenses are likely going to be thick, so it is important to keep the frames as small as possible to reduce the final lens thickness.

2. Fashion

Sadly, other kids might comment with either nice compliments or unnecessary jokes about your child’s eyeglasses. It is important your child is comfortable with his/her new specs so don’t let them choose ones that you think might be a cause for concern with other kids later.

The goal is to get your child to wear the glasses.

3. Plastic or Metal

Children’s frames are made of either plastic or metal. Boys’ frames have double bridges while girls’ frames have single frames, which can also be unisex.

Plastic frames in the past were considered a better choice for children because they were more durable, less likely to be bent or broken, lighter in weight and less expensive.

Now manufacturers are creating metal frames to incorporate these features as well.

Also, ask for hypoallergenic materials if your child has shown sensitivity to certain substances, such as nickel.

4. Proper Bridge Fit

Children’s noses aren’t fully developed which makes this a tough part of the consideration process. They don’t have a bridge to prevent plastic frames from sliding down, but metal frames are usually made with adjustable nose pads to fit everyone’s bridge.

5. Temple Style

Temples that wrap all the way around the back of the ear, called “cable temples,” help keep glasses from sliding down or falling off your child’s face completely.

Another option is a strap that goes around the head.

6. Spring Hinges

A nice feature to look for is temples with spring hinges because kids aren’t always careful when they put on or take off glasses. Spring hinges can prevent the need for frequent adjustments to be made to the glasses.

7. Lens Material

Children’s lenses should be made of polycarbonate or a material called Trivex because the lightweight materials are more impact-resistant than other lens materials. They are also lighter in weight, have built-in protection from damaging UV rays, and are scratch-resistant coated by the manufacturer.

The least desirable material is glass. It must be treated for impact resistance, but it still shatters when it breaks which can be hazardous to the eye.

8. Sports Eyewear

If your kid plays sports, a proper sports goggle with polycarbonate lenses will provide the best protection against an eye injury. These goggles also must be fitted properly.

9. Warranties

If your child is a toddler or a first-time wearer, opt for a warranty if it’s offered. Not all warranty plans are the same, but it can be useful in case the eyewear needs to be replaced or fixed.

10. Backup Pair

It’s always good to have a backup pair of glasses because kids aren’t always the gentlest being to their belongings. Another pair might be best especially for those with strong prescriptions and wouldn’t be able to function without their glasses.

Ask your optician if special discounts apply for second pairs, especially if they’re purchased at the same time as the primary pair.

Performance Eyecare conducts stress-free eye exams

Performance EyeCare STL Eye Examination

We understand the word “exam” can add some unnecessary stress to your life, so we wanted to share with you what a routine comprehensive eye exam usually consists of:

As noted by Gary Heiting, OD, and Jennifer Palombi, OD, the following is what makes up a routine eye exam:

Visual Acuity Test

This measures the sharpness of your vision and it’s usually performed with a projected eye chart to measure the distance visual acuity. It also consists of a small, handheld acuity chart to measure your near vision as well.

Color Blindness Test

This test can check your color vision as well as alert your eye doctor to any possible eye health problems that may affect your color vision.

Cover Test

During this test, your eye doctor will have you focus on a small object across the room and will then cover each of your eyes alternately while you stare at the target. The doctor then assesses whether the uncovered eye must move to pick up the fixation target, which could indicate strabismus or a more subtle binocular vision problem that could cause eye strain or amblyopia, known as “lazy eye.”

Retinoscopy

Your eye doctor may perform this test early in the eye exam to obtain an approximation of your eyeglass prescription.

In retinoscopy, the room lights will be dimmed and you will be given a large target (usually the big “E” on the chart) to fixate on. As you stare at the “E,” your eye doctor will shine a light at your eye and flip lenses in a machine in front of your eyes.

Refraction

During a refraction, the doctor puts the instrument called a phoropter in front of your eyes and shows you a series of lens choices. He or she will then ask you which of the two lenses in each choice looks clearer.

Based on your answers, your eye doctor will continue to fine-tune the lens power until reaching a final eyeglass prescription.

Autorefractors and Aberrometers

An autorefractor, like a manual refraction, determines the lens power required to accurately focus light on your retina. Autorefractors are especially useful in certain cases such as evaluating young children who may not sit still, pay attention or interact with the eye doctor adequately for an accurate manual refraction.

Slit-Lamp Examination

The slit lamp, also called a biomicroscope, allows your eye doctor to get a highly magnified view of the structures of your eye to thoroughly evaluate your eye health and detect any signs of infection or disease.

During this test, your doctor will have you place your chin on the chin rest of the slit lamp and will then shine the lamp’s light at your eye. The doctor looks through a set of oculars (much like a microscope in a science lab) and examines each part of your eye in turn.

He or she will first examine the structures of the front of your eye (lids, cornea, conjunctiva, iris, etc.). Then, with the help of a special high-powered lens, your doctor will view the inside of your eye (retina, optic nerve, macula and more).

The Glaucoma Test

A common glaucoma test is the “puff-of-air” test, technically known as non-contact tonometry, or NCT. (This test was immortalized on the hit TV show Friends, when Rachel couldn’t sit still for it.)

For NCT, the test begins with you putting your chin on the machine’s chin rest. While you look at a light inside the machine, the doctor or a trained assistant will puff a small burst of air at your open eye. It is completely painless, and the tonometer does not touch your eye.

At Performance Eyecare, we do not use the air puff. Instead, our doctors instills an eye drop and determines your eye pressure while looking with the microscope. There is no pain and this method is much more accurate than blowing air into your eye.

Pupil Dilation

To obtain a better view of the eye’s internal structures, your eye doctor instills dilating drops to enlarge your pupils. Dilating drops usually take about 20 to 30 minutes to start working. When your pupils are dilated, you will be sensitive to light (because more light is getting into your eye) and you may notice difficulty focusing on objects up close. These effects can last for up to several hours, depending on the strength of the drop used.

Once the drops have taken effect, your eye doctor will use various instruments to look inside your eyes. You should bring sunglasses with you to your eye exam, to minimize glare and light sensitivity on the way home. If you forget to bring sunglasses, the staff usually will give you a disposable pair.

Visual Field Test

In some cases, your eye doctor may want to check for the possible presence of blind spots (scotomas) in your peripheral or “side” vision by performing a visual field test. These types of blind spots can originate from eye diseases such as glaucoma.

Analysis of blind spots also may help identify specific areas of brain damage caused by a stroke or tumor.

Winter season spurs pink eye

Pink Eye Care at Performance Eyecare

The winter season is the season for colds, which in turn can create a battle against pink eye.

As noted by AllAboutVision.com, anyone can get pink eye. Preschoolers, schoolchildren, college students, teachers and daycare workers are particularly at risk for the contagious types of pink eye due to their close proximity with others in the classroom.

So what is pink eye?

Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye “is inflammation of the thin, clear covering of the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelids. Although the conjunctiva is transparent, it contains blood vessels that overlay the sclera of the eye. Anything that triggers inflammation will cause these conjunctival blood vessels to dilate. This is what causes red, bloodshot eyes.”

There are three types of pink eye, based on cause. They are:

Viral conjunctivitis which is caused by a virus, like the common cold. This type is very contagious, but usually clears up on its own after several days without medication. The symptoms include watery, itchy eyes; sensitive to light. It can be spread by coughing and sneezing.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria and can cause serious damage to the eye if it isn’t treated. The symptoms include: a sticky, yellow or greenish-yellow eye discharge in the corner of the eye. This can be contagious usually by direct contact with infected hands or items that have touched the eye.

Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by eye irritants such as pollen, dust and animal dander. This may be seasonal or flare up year-round. The symptoms include: watery, burning itchy eyes; often accompanied by stuffiness and runny nose, and light sensitivity. This is not contagious.

You should see your eye doctor if you or your child has pink eye symptoms. Give Performance Eyecare a call at (314) 878-1377 (St. Louis location) or (618) 234-3053 (Swansea, Illinois location).

Original article: http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/conjunctivitis.htm

Learning-Related Vision Problems

There’s no question that good vision is important for learning. Experts say more than 80% of what your child is taught in school is presented to them visually.

To make sure your child has the visual skills they need for school, the first step is to make sure your child has 20/20 eyesight. You’ll want to ensure any nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism is fully corrected with glasses or contact lenses. But there are other, less obvious learning-related vision problems you should know about as well.

Good vision is more than 20/20 visual acuity

Your child can have “20/20” eyesight and still have vision problems that can affect their learning and classroom performance. Visual acuity (how well your child can see letters on a wall chart) is just one aspect of good vision, and it’s not even the most important one. Many nearsighted kids may have trouble seeing the board in class, but they read well and excel in school.

Other important visual skills needed for learning include:

  • Eye movement skills – How smoothly and accurately your child can move their eyes across a printed page in a textbook.
  • Eye focusing abilities – How well they can change focus from far to near and back again (for copying information from the board, for example).
  • Eye teaming skills – How well your child’s eyes work together as a synchronized team (to converge for proper eye alignment for reading, for example).
  • Binocular vision skills – How well your child’s eyes can blend visual images from both eyes into a single, three-dimensional image.
  • Visual perceptual skills – How well your child can identify and understand what they see, judge its importance, and associate it with previous visual information stored in their brain.
  • Visual-motor integration – The quality of your child’s eye-hand coordination, which is important not only for sports, but also for legible handwriting and the ability to efficiently copy written information from a book or chalkboard.
  • Deficiencies in any of these important visual skills can significantly affect your child’s learning ability and school performance.

Many kids have vision problems that affect learning

Many kids have undetected learning-related vision problems. According to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), one study indicates 13% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 suffer from moderate to severe convergence insufficiency (an eye teaming problem that can affect reading performance). The study also concluded as many as one in four school-age children may have at least one learning-related vision problem.

Signs and symptoms of learning-related vision problems

There are many signs and symptoms of learning-related vision disorders, including:

  • Blurred distance or near vision, particularly after reading or other close work
  • Frequent headaches or eye strain
  • Difficulty changing focus from distance to near and back
  • Double vision, especially during or after reading
  • Avoidance of reading
  • Easily distracted when reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Loss of place, repetition, and/or omission of words while reading
  • Letter and word reversals
  • Poor handwriting
  • Hyperactivity or impulsiveness during class
  • Poor overall school performance

If your child exhibits one or more of these signs or symptoms and is having problems in school, call us to schedule a comprehensive children’s vision exam.

Comprehensive children’s vision exam

A children’s vision exam includes tests performed in a routine eye exam, plus additional tests to detect learning-related vision problems. These extra tests may include an assessment of eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye movement abilities. Also, depending on the type of problems your child is having, we may recommend other testing, either in our office or with a children’s vision and/or vision development specialist.

Vision therapy

If it turns out your child has a learning-related vision problem that cannot be corrected with regular glasses or contact lenses, then special reading glasses or vision therapy may help. Vision therapy is a program of eye exercises and other activities specifically tailored for each patient to improve their vision skills.

Vision and learning disabilities

A child who is struggling in school could have a learning-related vision problem, a learning disability or both. Vision therapy is a treatment for vision problems; it does not correct a learning disability. However, children with learning disabilities may also have vision problems that are contributing to their difficulties in the classroom.

After your child’s comprehensive vision exam, we will advise you about whether a program of vision therapy would be helpful. If we don’t provide the services we believe your child needs, we will refer you to a children’s vision specialist or education/learning specialist who does.

Your Infant’s Visual Development

One of the greatest moments after the birth of your baby is the first time your newborn daughter or son opens their eyes and makes eye contact with you. But don’t be concerned if that doesn’t happen right away.

The visual system of a newborn infant takes some time to develop. In the first week of life, your newborn’s vision is quite blurry, and they see only in shades of gray. It takes several months for your child’s vision to fully develop.

Knowing the expected milestones of your baby’s vision development during their first year of life can insure your child is seeing properly and enjoying their world to the fullest.

During your pregnancy

Your child’s vision development begins before birth. How you care for your own body during your pregnancy is extremely important for the development of your baby’s body and mind, including their eyes and the vision centers in their brain.

Be sure to follow the instructions your obstetrician (OB/GYN doctor) gives you regarding proper nutrition and the proper amount of rest during your pregnancy. And of course, avoid smoking and consuming alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, as these toxins can cause multiple problems for your baby, including serious vision problems.

Your Newborn’s Vision At Birth

At birth, your baby sees only in shades of gray. Nerve cells in their eyes and brain that control vision aren’t fully developed. Also, their eyes don’t have the ability to change focus and see close object clearly. So don’t be concerned if your baby doesn’t seem to be focusing on objects right away, including your face. It just takes time. (Despite these limitations, studies show that within a few days after birth, infants prefer looking at an image of their mother’s face over anyone else’s.)

Infant Vision After the First Month

Color vision develops in the first few weeks of life, so your baby is starting to see the world in full color. But visual acuity and eye teaming takes a bit longer — so if your infant’s eyes occasionally look unfocused or misaligned, don’t worry.

The eyes of infants are not as sensitive to visible light as adult eyes are, but they need protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Keep your baby’s eyes shaded outdoors with a brimmed cap or some other means.

Infant Vision During Months 2 and 3

Your baby’s vision is improving and their two eyes are beginning to move better as a team. They should be following moving objects at this stage, and starting to reach for things they see. Also, infants at this stage are learning how to shift their gaze from one object to another without having to move their head.

Infant Vision During Months 4 to 6

By 6 months of age, significant advances take place in the vision centers of the brain, allowing your infant to see more distinctly, move their eyes faster and more accurately, and have a better ability to follow moving objects with their eyes.

Visual acuity develops rapidly, improving from about 20/400 at birth to about 20/25 at six months of age. Your child’s color vision should be nearly fully developed at age six months as well, enabling them to see all the colors of the rainbow with ease.

Children also develop better eye-hand coordination at 4 to 6 months of age. They’re able to quickly locate and pick up objects, and accurately direct a bottle (and many other things) to their mouth.

Infant Vision Months 7 to 12

Your child is now mobile, crawling about and covering more distances than you might have expected. They are also better at judging distances and more skilled at locating, grasping and throwing objects, too.

During months 7 to 12, your child is developing a better awareness of their overall body and learning how to coordinate their vision with their body movements. At this time, watch them closely to keep them from harm as they explore their environment. Keep cabinets that contain cleaning supplies locked, and put a barrier in front of stairwells.

When Does Your Infant Need an Eye Exam?

If you suspect something is seriously wrong with your baby’s eyes in their first few months of life (a bulging eye, a red eye, excess tearing, or a constant misalignment of the eyes, for example) take your child to a pediatric ophthalmologist or other eye doctor immediately.

For routine eye care, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends you schedule your baby’s first eye exam when they are six months old. Though your baby can’t yet read letters on a wall chart, your optometrist can perform non-verbal testing to determine visual acuity, detect excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, and evaluate eye teaming and alignment. At this exam, your doctor will also check the health of your baby’s eyes, looking for anything that might interfere with normal and continuing vision development.

We welcome providing eye care for even the youngest children. For more information about eye exams for kids or to schedule your child’s first eye exam, please call our office.

How to tell if Your Child Needs Glasses

Keeping your children happy and healthy is a parent’s number one concern. It is easy to tell when your child feels ill and needs to see a doctor, but how do you know if your child is having difficulties seeing?

There are common signs that your child is having difficulty seeing. If your child is showing one or more of the below signs, you should contact your eye doctor for an examination.

Avoiding activities?

The first way to tell if your child has a vision problem is when they won’t take part in fun activities such as coloring, reading or making things with their hands. Although every child has certain activities they dislike due to personal preferences – a child who decides to sit out while their friends play with bricks, coloring books and games may be suffering from poor vision.

Tired eyes?

Being a child can be exhausting; all that running around in the yard, playing with friends and making hideouts out of bedding would cause anyone to be tired. But there is a line between when your child should be rubbing their eyes due to tiredness (around naptime or bedtime) and when they may be feeling discomfort in their eyes. A child who rubs their eyes, or has watery or red eyes on more than one occasion, may also be struggling to see.

Sitting too close to TV and games consoles?

Another warning sign – and usually the most obvious one – is when your child turns on the TV and sits too close to the screen. In the average living room the TV may be approximately 5 meters away from your couch; an acceptable distance. If you see your child sitting very close to the screen, you may have a problem.

Headaches and frowning?

It’s normal for the occasional bump and bruise as your child explores their world and is active in the classroom. But if your child walks around rubbing her head regularly, complaining of a headache or squinting around bright lights – she may have a vision problem. When we have poor eyesight we find it hard to focus on objects either close up or at a distance. If you need a visual aid but don’t use one, your eyes work overtime to try and focus on that object. This causes  muscles in the back of the eye to tense up, resulting in headaches over the eyes.

Lack of concentration?

Another way to tell if your child has a vision problem is their inability to focus on the task in hand. Those same muscles are working overtime to focus, which can cause your child to feel restless and uncomfortable. The result is them not paying attention for long periods of time at school or at home.

What to do: 

If you feel your child may have a vision problem, and she exhibits one or more of the signs mentioned above, it is really important that you take them to an optometrist as soon as possible. Speak to your child about your concerns and explain that an eye test is not painful. If it turns out that your child does need glasses, gently tell them that this is the case and remember that wearing glasses is not a bad thing. There are many glasses styles available for kids, so not only will they look fashionable and cool – they will also be more comfortable in the classroom and participating in activities.

Glasses to Aid Kids’ computer vision

Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome

Did you know October is considered Computer Learning Month? We’re not here to teach you how to use the computer better, but to inform you of computer vision syndrome, especially for children who are likely to use the computer more often.

Take a look at these facts and figures from Gary Heiting, OD and Larry K. Wan, OD:

  • 94 percent of American families with children have a computer in the home with access to the Internet.*
  • The amount of time children ages 8 to 18 devote to entertainment media (including computer and video games) each day has increased from 6.19 hours in 1999 to 7.38 hours in 2009.**
  • In 2009, 29 percent of American children ages 8 to 18 had their own laptop computer, and kids in grades 7 through 12 reported spending an average of more than 90 minutes a day sending or receiving texts on their cell phones.**

Sitting in front of the computer screen stresses a child’s eyes because it forces them to focus and strain a lot more than any other task. This can put them at an even greater risk than adults for developing symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), parents should consider these factors affecting children and computer use:

  • Children may not be aware of how much time they are spending at a computer. They may perform a task on the computer for hours with few breaks. This prolonged activity can cause eye focusing and eye strain problems.
  • Children are very adaptable. They assume that what they see and how they see is normal — even if their vision is problematic. That’s why it is important for parents to monitor the time a child spends working at a computer and make sure they have regular eye exams as directed by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
  • Children are smaller than adults. Since computer workstations often are arranged for adult use, this can change the viewing angle for young children. Computer users should view the screen slightly downward, at a 15-degree angle. Also, if a child has difficulty reaching the keyboard or placing their feet comfortably on the floor, he or she may experience neck, shoulder and/or back pain.

Here are tips to reduce the risk of computer vision syndrome in children, according to the AOA:

  1. Have your child’s vision checked. Before starting school, every child should have a comprehensive eye exam, including near-point (computer and reading) and distance testing.
  2. Limit the amount of time your child spends at the computer without a break. Encourage kids to take 20-second breaks from the computer every 20 minutes to minimize the development of eye focusing problems and eye irritation. (Some eye doctors call this the “20-20 rule.”)
  3. Check the ergonomics of the workstation. For young and small children, make sure the computer workstation is adjusted to their body size. The recommended distance between the monitor and the eye for children is 18 to 28 inches. Viewing the computer screen closer than 18 inches can strain the eyes.
  4. Check the lighting. To reduce glare, windows and other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of the monitor. Reduce the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen.

Be sure to check out our large selection of high quality and designer eyeglasses!

Visual Freedom Starts Here

Non-Surgical Vision Correction

If you are looking for a safe, non-invasive option to better eyesight, you may want to consider our alternate, non-surgical visual correction surgery which is also known as the vision retainer shaping system. This is the process of utilizing retainer contact lens that corrects your overall vision while you are asleep!

You may be asking yourself, “what is the difference between lasik eye surgery, and non-surgical vision correction?” And the answer is this:

  1. Vision Retainer Shaping System is less than half the cost of a laser vision eye surgery.
  2. Good news! The non-surgical method involves zero post pain.
  3. You will not experience any hazy or blurred vision once complete.
  4. Both of your eyes can be corrected in the same visit!
  5. No use, or need for steroid or other drugs as there are with laser surgery patients.
  6. We saved the best for last! This retainer contact lens is reversible, whereas surgical correction is not!

Our team can help you determine if you are a candidate. We also offer a free consultation! It is important to keep in mind that VRSS is not suitable for everyone, and needs to be performed by a qualified & licensed eye care expert, like Dr. Massie. This non-surgical vision repair is safe for all ages, including children and older adults. To see a list of the eye health insurance plans we accept, call our nearby office today! The road to visual freedom is only an appointment away!

Need Glasses? Find the Perfect Frame for Your Face Shape!

Did you know that it takes only three seconds for someone to make a first impression of you? That’s right – your hair, clothing, height, and the way you carry yourself is all analyzed within that short amount of time by those who encounter you.

Many times a certain type of frame can really attract a lot of positive compliments! But what type of frame is right for you? The endless options of eyewear can be very overwhelming, especially if you’re unsure of what will work with your face shape.

That’s where we come in!

If you don’t know your face shape, pull back your hair and look at yourself in the mirror. What kind of shape do you see when you examine your hairline, cheeks, chin, and jawline? If need be, take a dry erase marker and draw the shape of your face in the mirror.

Most eyewear will fall into one of four face-shape categories: square, round, oval, and heart. Choose the category that best describes your face shape, and see which frames you should shoot for to help you look your best!

If you have a SQUARE face…

You probably have a face that is proportional in width and length. You also might have a broad forehead, strong jawline, and a squared chin. You will want to create the illusion of length to help soften your jawbone, so round or oval frames with upward curves would be great for you! Frames with pops of color of flourishes in the corner can also help soften your sharp features. Try on semi-rimless, oval, and cat-eye frames to see which one you feel flatters your face the most.

If you have a ROUND face…

Your face is probably proportional in length and width but instead of sharp features, you have soft curves, a rounded jawline, and very few angles. Unlike those with square faces, you will want to stay far away from small rounded frames. Instead, try on high or mid-height temple frames, which will help give you a longer, slimmer face. Geometric and angular frames will also provide your face balance. Give squared frames with straight top lines and bold colors a shot – you’ll probably love them!

If you have an OVAL face…

Then celebrate! Your face shape is one of the easiest to dress up! Your face is probably longer than it is wide, has balanced features, and a chin that’s slightly narrower than your forehead. Your jawline is probably rounded, too. Wider frames with strong top lines will probably complement your face the best. But because your face is suited for nearly any frame, you don’t have to feel confined to a single look! Experiment with geometric shapes, square frames, and everything in between.

If you have a HEART face…

Your face is probably shaped like an inverted triangle in that your forehead is wider, your cheekbones are higher, and your jawline is narrow. Stay away from frames that exaggerate the widest parts of your face. Add width to your eye line by choosing round or oval frames that curve upward. Low temples and 70’s styled frames would all look fabulous on you!

If you’re ready for some new glasses, come on in to Performance Eyecare. We have several styles of frames for you to choose from. We want to help you look AND see great!

How to Get Your Child to Wear Glasses?

Everyone remembers how difficult it was to be a child, especially when you had something that made you stand out and others made fun of. So what do you do if your child needs glasses and they are not excited to wear them? You cannot tape them to their head or force them to wear the glasses when you are not around. So what can you do to encourage your child to wear their glasses?

Luckily, glasses have become trendy in the last few years and they make very stylish frames.  Hopefully your child will love their glasses and be excited to wear them. However, if your child is more hesitant, try some of these tips:

  • Let the teacher know your child needs glass and ask their help to ensure your child wears them.
  • Show your child pictures of celebrities and athletes wearing glasses and have them identify their favorite singer, actress, athlete or role model who wears glasses too.
  • Encourage your child to practice in front of the mirror with their glasses on. It will feel strange at first, but will eventually become second nature.
  • Encourage your child to take the glasses off throughout the day if they are uncomfortable. If the glasses are really uncomfortable, take your child back to get the frames adjusted.
  • If your child is old enough for contacts, see if they would prefer those instead.

Eye Exams for Children

As a parent, you may wonder whether your pre-schooler has a vision problem or when a first eye exam should be scheduled.

Eye exams for children are extremely important. Experts say 5 to 10% of pre-schoolers and 25% of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child’s vision problem is crucial because, if left untreated, some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss.

When should kids have their eyes examined?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age. They should go back to the eye doctor around age 3, then again at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually.

Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic visual skills for learning:

  • Near vision
  • Distance vision
  • Eye teaming (binocularity) skills
  • Eye movement skills
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Eye/hand coordination

Scheduling your child’s eye exam

Your family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes. If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, they may refer an optometrist for further evaluation. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to help them detect and diagnose vision problems.

When scheduling an eye exam, choose a time when your child is usually alert and happy. Specifics of how eye exams are conducted depend on your child’s age, but an exam generally will involve a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health examination and a consultation with you regarding the findings.

After you’ve made the appointment, you’ll fill out a form all about your child’s health. The health history form will ask about your child’s birth history (also called perinatal history), such as birth weight and whether or not the child was full-term. Your eye doctor also may ask whether complications occurred during the pregnancy or delivery. The form will also inquire about current medications and past or present allergies.

Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has a history of prematurity, has delayed motor development, engages in frequent eye rubbing, blinks excessively, fails to maintain eye contact, cannot seem to maintain a gaze while looking at objects, has poor eye tracking skills or has failed a pediatrician or pre-school vision screening.

Your eye doctor will also want to know about your child’s previous ocular diagnoses and treatments like surgeries and glasses or contact lens wear. Be sure you inform your eye doctor if there is a family history of eye problems requiring vision correction, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, misaligned eyes (strabismus) or amblyopia (“lazy eye”).

Eye testing for infants

It takes some time for a baby’s vision skills to develop. To assess whether your infant’s eyes are developing normally, your eye doctor may use one or more of the following tests:

  • Tests of pupil responses evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
  • “Fixate and follow” testing determines whether your baby can fixate on an object (such as a light) and follow it as it moves. Infants should be able to perform this task quite well by the time they are 3 months old.
  • Preferential looking involves using cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes. In this way, vision capabilities can be assessed.

Eye testing for pre-school children

Pre-school children can have their eyes thoroughly tested even if they don’t yet know the alphabet or are too shy to answer the doctor’s questions. Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:

  • LEA Symbols for young children are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, except that special symbols in these tests include an apple, house, square and circle.
  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the eye to observing how it reflects from the retina (the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye). This test helps eye doctors determine the child’s eyeglass prescription.
  • Random Dot Stereopsis uses dot patterns to determine how well the two eyes work as a team.

Eye and vision problems that affect children

Besides looking for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism (refractive errors), your eye doctor will be examining your child’s eyes for signs of these eye and vision problems commonly found in young children:

  • Amblyopia. Also commonly called “lazy eye,” this is decreased vision in one or both eyes despite the absence of any eye health problem or damage. Common causes of amblyopia include strabismus (see below) and a significant difference in the refractive errors of the two eyes. Treatment of amblyopia may include patching the dominant eye to strengthen the weaker eye.
  • Strabismus. This is misalignment of the eyes, often caused by a congenital defect in the positioning or strength of muscles that are attached to the eye and which control eye positioning and movement. Left untreated, strabismus can cause amblyopia in the misaligned eye. Depending on its cause and severity, surgery may be required to treat strabismus.
  • Convergence insufficiency. This is the inability to keep the eye comfortably aligned for reading and other near tasks. Convergence insufficiency can often be successfully treated with vision therapy, a specific program of eye exercises.
  • Focusing problems. Children with focusing problems (also called accommodation problems) may have trouble changing focus from distance to near and back again (accommodative infacility) or have problems maintaining adequate focus for reading (accommodative insufficiency). These problems often can be successfully treated with vision therapy.
  • Eye teaming problems. Many eye teaming (binocularity) problems are more subtle than strabismus. Deficiencies in eye teaming skills can cause problems with depth perception and coordination.

Vision and learning

Experts say that 80% of what your child learns in school is presented visually. Undetected vision problems can put them at a significant disadvantage. Be sure to schedule a complete eye exam for your child prior to the start of school.

What to Know About Children’s Eyecare

Children's eyecare, Performance Eyecare Alton, Performance Eyecare STL, Children Eye exams

Your children are one of the most precious things to you, and making sure their eyes are healthy is a top priority for parents and caregivers. Some parents don’t know that both young children and babies should have comprehensive eye exams to make sure their eyes are working properly and don’t need correction.

Since infants and young children may have vision problems you can’t see, an eye exam by a certified optometrist is the best option. Children respond better to treatment and correction during these developing years as their brain is learning how to use their eyes to see.

What to Know About Children’s Eyecare

Children’s Eyecare & First Eye Exam. A baby should receive their first eye exam between the ages of 6-12 months according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). During this examination an optometrist will check for excessive nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The optometrist will also make sure the eyes move in a coordinated way to rule out Amblyopia, commonly called “lazy eye”. They will also make sure your baby’s eyes aren’t overly sensitive to light, can follow an object’s movements and don’t have other health issues.

A Screening Is Not The Same As An Eye Exam. As your child grows, it’s important that they continue getting eye exams each year or at least at ages 3 and 5 and every year after that. Many preschools give vision screenings that may give parents a false sense of security that their child’s vision is fine. Unfortunately these screenings only assess one or two areas of vision and are really meant to indicate if further testing is necessary. A comprehensive vision exam by an optometrist is the only way to ensure proper diagnosis and care for your child’s eyes.

You Can Help Your Child’s Eyes Develop. As a parent or caregiver there are many things you can do to help your child’s eyes develop properly. The AOA recommends that you use a nightlight in their room as a baby, talk to them as you walk around the room, give them plenty of time to explore on the floor, play patty-cake and hide and seek games with them, and roll a ball back and forth with them as they get older. There are many other recommendations on their site for what to do as they grow.

Infant and Child Glasses Options Are Fun! Glasses have come a long way and recent innovations make them more user friendly and fashionable than ever. Many frames are made of flexible materials that fit children well and come in catchy colors and styles to fit any little face. Several styles also come with a band that goes around your baby or child’s head to keep the glasses on and in place.

At Performance Eyecare we take your child’s vision seriously. We work with you to make sure your infant or child gets the best care possible in a friendly, welcoming environment. Contact us for more information about how we can serve you and your children in the St. Louis, MO, Alton, IL or Swansea, IL areas.