1. At what age should children first get their eyes checked?
The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their first eye examination between the ages of 6 and 12 months. This ensures that we can detect potentially sight threatening conditions, such as lazy eye or amblyopia, as soon as possible. As the area’s only optometrist with a 2-year advanced practice fellowship in pediatrics and binocular vision, and a volunteer for the InfantSee® program through the American Optometric Association, I help provide these comprehensive eye examinations at NO COST to the patient. It does not matter if you have insurance or not- you don’t pay anything for that visit.
2. How often should children get eye exams?
Prevention and early intervention are key. Nearly 80% of what we learn is through the visual system. For young and school age children it is best to have a comprehensive dilated eye examination every year from an eye doctor that truly understands vision in children. Also, don’t skip the eye drops. Eye drops are not fun, but they are critical to properly assessing a child’s vision. This helps to find any problems that can affect reading and learning as soon as possible. We can then help treat these issues immediately and help prevent major issues down the road.
3. Are there signs parents should watch for that could indicate a child is having trouble seeing?
There are so many signs to look for. Rubbing the eyes, squinting, eye turns, losing place when reading, re-reading lines, covering or closing an eye when reading or doing schoolwork are some of the more common signs that there is a problem. Symptoms of a vision problem can even mimic symptoms of ADD or ADHD. If a parent notices any of these signs or symptoms they need to contact an eye doctor with advanced training in these areas for help.
4. What advice would you give to a child that has just learned they need to wear glasses?
Glasses can be a lot of fun! Even Superman and Supergirl wore glasses! Not only will they help you see better, they can also help show off your personality! Have fun with the colors and ask about customizations! I usually recommend parents to pick out three or four frames that they like and let their child pick from those. When a child is happy with their glasses, they are much more likely to wear them.
5. Can / does screen time have an impact on a child’s eyesight?
There are many ways that screen time can affect children’s eyes. Eye strain, disrupted sleep, even dry eyes can occur with increased screen time. One of the biggest things that we see is screen time means more time indoors and less time outdoors. Research is showing that children that spend less time outdoors have a higher risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia). With research estimating that nearly 50% of the world’s population will be nearsighted by 2050 we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help. Myopia detection and prevention is another important reason for children to get a yearly eye exam.
6. Anything else you’d like parents to know about their child’s eyes?
Don’t settle for 20/20 vision. Utilize professionals with advanced training to give your child their best possible vision for life. There is so much more to vision and eye health than just being able to read a letter chart at a vision screening. Just like every other area of medicine, early detection is key to avoiding major problems. I have had so many adults come through my office never knowing why they didn’t enjoy reading. Some even chose careers to strategically avoid reading. We thoroughly evaluated and determined they had a binocular vision disorder that made reading difficult. If only they or their parents would have known, they could have been helped years earlier!
Modern Heritage Eye Care emphasizes personalized care for the entire family using the most modern, evidence-based practices in optometry, looking beyond 20/20 to ensure every patient receives the most comprehensive eye care possible. Modern Heritage Eye Care is one of only four offices in Ohio and the ONLY office in the Toledo Area to provide Vivid Vision, a fully immersive virtual reality treatment to improve the ability of the eyes to work together and see in 3D.
Dr. Shasteen is the ONLY pediatric and vision therapy masters fellowship trained and published optometrist in Northwest Ohio, a distinction achieved by less than 10% of optometrists nationwide. Her research has been published and presented at meetings of the American Academy of Optometry and The Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Her experience as a clinical researcher provides her a unique insight to provide the most scientifically based eye care possible.