Back to School Readiness: Checking Our Children’s Vision

A child’s vision develops from the time s/he is born until kindergarten. Infants can only see objects that are 8 to 10 inches from their faces. Over the next few years, a child develops his/her ability to see further away, judge distances, and improve eye-body and eye-hand coordination.

Children’s vision provides an important source of information about the world around them. Healthy vision is critical for every child’s social development, school success and well-being. A child’s first vision examination should occur around 6 months old. Children should then have exams at age 3, before starting kindergarten and every year thereafter. A good time to do this is before your child goes back to school or within the first month of returning to school.

Identifying if a child is having vision issues can be challenging, as children do not typically talk about blurred vision because they think everyone sees things as they are seeing them. Here are a few signs that a child may have vision problems: squinting, itchy eyes, excessive blinking, sitting very close to the screen or TV, and/or having headaches.

Keeping children’s eyes safe and healthy is important. Wearing sunglasses is essential for babies and children of all ages. Wearing protective eyewear for sports, like soccer or lacrosse, is another important safety measure. It also is good for children to have plenty of outside play time and to limit screen time. Excessive screen time can cause digital eye strain and may contribute to myopia – nearsightedness.

Some children do have serious eye or medical conditions that lead to vision loss and/or blindness. At Society for the Blind, we provide low vision eye care for children including occupational therapy to help them use their functional vision effectively and learn how to use adaptive technologies.

For school-age children, our CareersPLUS Youth Program offers an After-School Academy to assist youth with vision loss in their academic work and teach them non-visual techniques such as using a white cane, Braille and assistive technology. CareersPLUS is also a place for kids with vision loss and blindness to meet other kids like them. We have social outings, workshops and family events. Some of our teens are now working on a podcast called “EyeCanPod.”

Society for the Blind is committed to eye health for children of all ages. If you have any questions or concerns about a child you know, please reach out. Together we can ensure that children in our community can discover, develop and achieve their full potential.