Fun Fact: Babies aren’t born with fully developed vision, which is all related to the brain’s development. As babies grow, they only learn to see over time when vision pathways between their brains and eyes are established. This complex process is, in fact, critical to eye development. And if it doesn’t go smoothly, one or both eyes will not develop properly.
When that happens, the capacity of young children to learn and socialize is greatly affected. According to the World Health Organization, visually challenged children can experience delayed development with lifelong consequences. Meanwhile, school children with vision impairment typically endure lower levels of educational achievement.
For instance, children with amblyopia, colloquially known as “lazy eye”, can find it difficult to see objects in one or two eyes. They will then experience loss of depth perception which, if left untreated, can cause irreversible vision loss later in life.
In the same manner, not every child is immune to future vision problems.
Constant Use of Electronic Devices
In today’s digital age, young children barely go outside and play. As a parent or guardian, how many hours in a day do you let your child watch TV or use your smartphone?
For kids, watching cartoons like Peppa Pig or streaming Youtube to sing along to Cocomelon has already been a part of their routine. Surely, they benefit from it by learning a variety of subjects, but it also means they spend more time in front of the screen. Even in adults, prolonged exposure to digital screens strains their eyes. This is the reason why taking eye breaks and staring at objects at far distances relieve digital eye strain.
Researchers suggest that increased screen time among children risks them from developing myopia (nearsightedness). In the Philippines, the incidence of myopia continues to progress. Almost half of the overall population are currently myopic and unfortunately, awareness of its long-term effects is still low.
While encouraging visual breaks is important in taking care of your child’s eyes, understanding their needs is also consequential. Ever since the pandemic started last 2020, children further rely on technology to interact with their peers, to learn via online classes, and cultivate hobbies such as online games.
Currently, children are enrolled in online classes. There’s already a high chance of going back to face-to-face interaction very soon, and the future of learning will be a blend of face-to-face and online learning experiences. Preparing your child with a clear vision will allow them to flourish and achieve their maximum potential.
Aside from the academic impact of clear vision, it’s undeniable that your child might also take an interest in playing online games such as Roblox or first-person shooter video games like Valorant or Call of Duty. Considering the impact of e-sports in newer generations, it’s not a joking matter anymore that your child may prefer online gaming and other tech-related careers over traditional ones.
For parents, what are the things that they can do to care for their child’s eyes?
1. Control vision impairment at an early age
Taking care of your child’s eyes always starts with a comprehensive pediatric eye exam. Think of it as a series of assessments to determine if there is an underlying problem with your child’s vision. Comprehensive eye exams can provide you with an in-depth understanding of your child’s ocular needs.
Many children with learning difficulties have unnoticed vision handicaps. Confusing similar words such as “dairy” and “diary”, and poor reading comprehension can be signs of learning-related visual challenges. In retrospect, it’s a frustrating experience to commit mistakes just because you have problems with your eyes. But if such instances are addressed, children can definitely perform better inside and outside the classroom.
As kids progress in academics, demand for their visual capabilities grows. Font sizes in reading materials become smaller and the duration spent studying in front of a computer increases exponentially. Not only that, but kids will receive more homework, which will challenge your child’s vision.
2. Bringing your child to a pediatric eye specialist
Eye exams are important for young children. Most of the time, parents won’t notice any early symptoms of vision problems. And usually, children barely complain of blurry vision or squinting because they’re not aware that such impairments need to be treated. The longer a vision impairment remains undetected, the more serious the condition gets.
As a parent, catching eye problems early gives you the opportunity to boost your child’s potential to have good vision. Albeit bothersome, pediatric eye specialists have non-invasive tests and methods of spotting and treating pediatric eye problems even in very young children who may not be able to express their visual complaints yet.
To understand more now is the best time to bring your child to a pediatric eye specialist, where the doctor can give eye exams to your child and provide them with a personalized eye care plan.
By having a meticulous approach to treating pediatric patients, your child is in good hands with Dr. Lareen Dawn Tan, founder of Eyecare Deluxe in Davao City. Make sure to book an appointment so we can get in touch with you in taking care of your child’s vision. Just like the adage, prevention is better than cure.