Regular eye checkups are of utmost importance regardless of physical condition or age. Some serious diseases, such as diabetes and underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, can directly affect your vision and you won’t even know it. Eye exams are especially important for children because as much as 5-10 % of preschoolers and as high as 25% of school children suffer from vision impairment. If not diagnosed early, these small complications may develop into bigger problems in adulthood.
In fact, the American Optometric Association recommends that a comprehensive eye exam should be the first priority of a 6 month old infant. Moreover, the checkup should be followed up at age 3 and at age 5 or 6. Every child needs a two year interval eye checkup to determine if they require vision corrective procedures. Children need good hand eye coordination, near and distance vision, focusing skills, as well as peripheral awareness for basic learning. A healthy vision is an integral part of a child’s education.
In a comprehensive eye exam, the doctor might look for a number of potentially harmful vision abnormalities, such as refractive error, amblyopia, strabismus (crossed eye), binocular vision, focus, certain eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, etc. A simple vision screening is not a substitute for a full exam because only part of a full comprehensive test may be carried out. If all aspects are not checked, a critical illness may be missed at early detection and studies have proved this. If vision problems are detected early, it can save you thousands of dollars from fixing a more severe and damaging effect in the future.
Eye tests for an infant, however, are not the same as a preschool child’s. At 6 months, the tests are mostly behavioral and coordinative, such as pupil response tests, fixate and follow testing, and preferential looking exercises. A Preschooler, however, has to go through a battery of tests, such as LEA symbols (symbols and letters), Retinoscopy, random dot stereopsis, eyelid health, color vision, convergence insufficiency, etc. However, a battery of tests and prescription eye glasses can be expensive.
Therefore, to reduce the cost of a comprehensive eye exam, the government ministries and private associations have come together and created a nationwide program known as the ‘Eye See Eye Learn® (ESEL) program. ESEL has partnered with countless kindergartens all over the country to provide comprehensive eye exams which will be carried out by your local optometrist. The best news is, if your child needs prescription glasses, ESEL will provide them for free! ESEL’s vision is to help every child get a quality education without visual hindrance and raise awareness among teachers and parents about the eye exams.