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Credit: Almost Supermom

Did you know that 49% of children under the age of 6 have never seen an eye doctor? That is a troubling statistic considering that the American Optometric Association recommends a child have at least 3 eye exams by the time they are 6.

I know that a lot of you are thinking that there is no reason to take a child to the eye doctor if they are not exhibiting symptoms of vision problems. While that is a common assumption, it’s completely inaccurate. You take your child to the pediatrician and dentist for checkups and preventive care, why not the optometrist too?

I have to confess that I was one of those parents that didn’t realize how important regular eye exams were for young kids. I thought that the eye and vision screening at my pediatrician was enough, until my 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with amblyopia and strabismus and lost 50% of her vision in her left eye.

We first noticed a problem when we looked at a picture of her… her eye seemed to turn in, we didn’t notice it when we looked at her, just in this picture. We asked the pediatrician about it on her 3 year check up and they didn’t notice it either and said it just must me a funny face she makes when we took her picture.

I wasn’t satisfied with that so I decided to make an appointment for her with a pediatric ophthalmologist. He diagnosed her with strabismus and amblyopia with a 75% vision loss in her left eye. We started a strict regimen of patching her good eye to make her bad eye work harder to regain some of the vision she lost and hopefully help her bad eye turn back without have to surgically correct it.

Unfortunately, while the patching helped strengthen her vision, it did not correct the strabismus and she ended up having to have 2 surgeries to correct it. While her strabismus is fixed, her vision in that eye is as good as it’s going to get at 50%. She wears glasses now to help preserve her vision in that eye.

The reason that I’m sharing this story with you is to let you know how important it is to get your kids into the eye doctor at least every other year starting around 6 months. If my little bug had been evaluated by an ophthalmologist early on, we may have been able to save 100% of her vision and avoid surgery.

Now all my children are seen by an ophthalmologist every year, that visit is as important in our family as regular dental check ups and yearly well visits with the pediatrician. If my story isn’t enough to get you to schedule a preventive check up with an eye doc, here are a few more reason why every preschooler needs a regular eye exam:

1. Having a complete eye exam before your child enters school allows enough time to catch and correct any vision problems that may interfere with learning.

2. 70% of everything we learn comes through our eyes. Impaired vision can affect a child’s cognitive, emotional, neurologic, and physical development by potentially limiting their exposure to a range of experiences and information

3. Vision screening at pre-school or at the pediatrician aren’t enough. They are a great way to flag children with obvious vision issues, they can not detect underlying and potentially serious eye health issues. Many parents are relying on their children to tell them when it’s time to see an eye doctor. 84% of parents say they know their child needs to see an eye doctor when their child starts complaining about their vision…. sometimes that is too late to correct a serious problem that has gone undetected.

4. Vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers. Many vision problems begin at an early age and untreated eye conditions can worsen and lead to more serious problems.

Think About Your Eyes wants to encourage parents to be proactive with their child’s eye care.

Don’t put this off, your child’s vision could be at stake!

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