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1. When should a baby have their first eye exam?

By 6 months of age your baby's eyes should be working together to form 3 dimensional vision in their brain. Normal child development depends on vision to guide and lead. Vision problems are usually not noticed by parents, but eye movement skills, eye alignment, refractive error and eye health are all easy to assess by an optometrist. We recommend children be seen by 6 months and yearly thereafter. If your baby is at high risk for vision problems or if you've noticed something unusual they should be seen as early as possible.


2. If I don't wear glasses does my child need an exam?

While some vision traits -both good and bad- can run in the family, there is no way to ensure efficient, healthy vision without a comprehensive eye exam. Children with vision problems are not usually aware of it, as they have nothing to compare to. It's important to have your child's eyes examined by an eye doctor.


3. Does my child have to know the alphabet to have an eye exam?

No. Vision can be tested without verbal responses. Kids don't need to know letters, numbers, or even speak to have a comprehensive eye examination. They don't even have to sit for long. Although the tests used in an infant or toddler eye exam are different than for adults, the same information can be obtained. There is no such thing as being too young to have your eyes checked.


4. My child struggles in school. Is it more than laziness?

Avoidance of bookwork and below-expected school performance often indicate a vision problem. Reading, writing, and computer work are much more taxing on the eyes than people realize. Vision problems often develop as adaptations to the extra effort. Help ensure your child's success by keeping their face at least 30 cm from books or computer monitors. Encourage vision breaks by focusing far away every 15 minutes or so. Vision therapy is often used to resolve difficulties with the underlying vision skills needed for reading , writing, and math performance.


5. Do children grow out of “crossed eyes” or “lazy eyes”?

Eye alignment problems (strabismus) are often noticed during the infant or toddler stages. The eyes may not be teaming together to see the 3 dimensional world that we take for granted. It is much more than a cosmetic concern as an eye turn can indicate impaired spatial awareness, difficulties with body coordination, or serious health problem. Many cases of strabismus are treatable with eyeglasses or vision therapy. Even if noticed only occasionally, an eye turn should not be ignored. Most do not get better without help.

Eye turns are often treated with glasses, contacts, eye patching, and vision therapy. In some cases eye alignment surgery is appropriate if appearance is the only concern. This approach is unlikely to resolve the underlying eye coordination and attention problems however.


6. Can I tell if my child has a vision problem?

Some vision problems do show signs or behaviors noticed by parents, teachers and other caregivers. However, many serious impairments of vision development and eye health give only subtle signs or symptoms, not noticed by parent or child. Vision screenings at school or at your family doctor's office cannot offer the thoroughness of an eyecare professional. Have your child checked by a developmental optometrist.


7. What is Vision Training?

Optometric vision training – or vision therapy – is an individualized program of fun activities designed for children and adults,  to develop better vision skills. Vision training helps:

·        improve focusing ability
·        enhance eye movement control
·        improve visual thinking skills and
·        co-ordinate eye teaming.

Goals of therapy depend on individual needs but most commonly, it’s used to:

·        improve reading, writing, spelling, and math skills
·        treat amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (eye turns)
·        rehabilitate vision and balance problems after brain injury
·        improve comfort when reading or using the computer
·        enhance sports performance & improve reading comfort

At InSight vision therapy is done in-office, one on one with the therapist. All sessions are programmed by Dr. Sass. Sessions are normally once or twice per week with a few homework activities.


While vision training can be used to prevent vision problems from developing, it is not usually used to “get out of glasses.” Vision training does not “strengthen eyes” either, it improves control and efficiency. Vision therapy is not magic. Much like piano lessons, dance, or hockey results are seen more quickly with practice. Depending on the goals, therapy can take a few weeks to several months to complete. Results should last a lifetime.


8. What is “lazy eye”?

Many vision problems have been called ‘lazy eye'. Most commonly it refers to amblyopia, a condition where the brain uses limited input from one of the eyes. It is usually thought of as reduced eyesight but it also involves eye movements, spatial perception, body coordination and other issues.

While vision may be fine with the other eye, there is no 'compensation.' Someone with amblyopia makes adaptations with their disability but don't perform as well as they would with equal input from both eyes. Amblyopia is not normally corrected with glasses alone. It is common and often runs in families. Management may include glasses, contacts, eye patching, and vision therapy.


9. Do vision problems contribute to learning challenges?

Yes. It is estimated that 25 to 30% of children have a learning related vision problem that prevents them from reaching their full academic potential. In learning assistance classes, 80 to 90% of the kids have vision problems. Children diagnosed with learning disabilities, attention deficits, hyperactivity, anxiety, and autism often have vision problems that cause or at least contribute to their struggles.


10. Can too much television harm your eyesight?

Maybe. There is evidence to suggest that sitting too close to the television can cause your vision to make adaptations such as myopia or astigmatism. Of greater concern should be the unusual stimulation provided by television and video games, especially in younger kids who are developing their brains. Electronic images are bright and fast which can be entertaining and hypnotic. This passive viewing may train kids to need external visual images rather than making their own. This may cause limited ability to control attention and poor imagination and visualization abilities. Difficulties with spelling and math can result.

Healthy visual and brain development requires activities that involve eye, hand, and body movements, distance judgements, and thinking in pictures. We agree with other child development professionals that television and video games should be very limited with children, particularly those younger than 8 years old. 

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