Are Your Children Ready For School?
Kids And Contacts
Review Current Studies.
Are Your Children Ready For School?
Your children are starting back to school shortly and they have books, pencils, and backpacks, but do
they have all they need? A childís visual system is responsible for eighty percent of what they learn,
and therefore, a visual system that is not functioning properly, will significantly interfere with their
normal learning process.
I am always asked ďHow old should my child be for their first comprehensive eye exam?Ē
The American Optometric Association guidelines recommend a first exam to evaluate vision
and health, be done at age six months. Assuming no problems are found at that examination, a
child should be re-examined at three years of age, and once again just before starting school.
If the child is at risk or problems are seen then the examination schedule is more frequent.
Almost always when I tell parents this examination schedule, the question I am then asked is
ďbut my child certainly cannot read letters yet - how can you examine them?Ē Well, you got me!
The secret is out of the bag now! We eye doctors donít really need you to read the letters to
perform our examination. In fact, we can determine your prescription without any response from
you at all - and we do it all the time. The only reason we ask you to read the letters is because
that gives us some additional information that can guide our decision making process.
It is sometimes difficult for parents to identify vision problems in their child since children
are very adaptable. First, no child will ever complain that they canít see. They donít know
what clear vision is supposed to look like and so they do the best they can with what they see.
They donít know that everybody isnít seeing the same way that they are seeing. Second, if one
eye doesnít see very well but the other one does, they can appear on the surface to be functioning
normally. Third, children typically have their own agenda. What this means is that they may want
glasses because one of their friends just got glasses or they may not want glasses even if they canít
see well for fear of being made fun of by their peers.
There are three main parts to a childís comprehensive eye examination. Vision testing which
determines whether there is a prescription and how well they see. Binocular testing which
determines how well the two eyes work as a team to give comfortable non-strained vision.
Health evaluation to determine if there are any medical problems (i.e. glaucoma, etc.) with
their eyes. It unfortunately is a common misconception that a school screening or a pediatricians
vision check, are sufficient to determine these things when the screening is not even testing for
these things. A screening is only designed to identify extreme problems and in no way replaces the
need for a comprehensive eye examination.
Kids And Contacts
Can kids really wear contact lenses? I don't think that my child is old enough or responsible enough to wear contact lenses. If my child
can't even keep their room clean, how are they going to be able to take appropriate care of contact lenses? What is the proper age to
consider contact lenses for children? Are these some of the concerns that you may have in correcting your child's vision with contact
You are not alone. I find that these are the most commonly asked questions by parents after I suggest contact lenses for their children.
Let's answer these questions one at a time.
How young is too young? Actually, there is no age that is too young for contact lenses. There are many instances requiring that even
infants be fit with contact lenses. In my personal experience, children between the ages of four and six years of age are generally
mature enough to be self-sufficient in caring for their contact lenses. These children do very well and really take excellent care of their
lenses. They seem to understand that wearing contact lenses is a privilege and that they have been given a very "adult" responsibility.
So what does keeping a room clean have to do with wearing contact lenses? Actually, absolutely nothing. Keeping a room clean may
be beneficial but usually not for the child. The untidy room could represent anything from rebellion to laziness but rarely will indicate
how well a child will do with contact lenses. The benefits of contact lenses to children in addition to providing excellent vision and
freedom in activity, are increased self-esteem and self-confidence. Their whole image is enhanced. On many occasions I have seen
shy, reserved spectacle wearing children come out of their shell after beginning to wear contact lenses. Children have a strong desire
both to "fit in" as well as feel special. Contact lenses address these issues very well because the child's vision correction is "invisible"
to their peers and lenses are truly a special privilege.
In addition to what has already been mentioned there is also a therapeutic advantage to gas permeable contacts and nearsightedness.
There has been study data to show that wearing gas permeable contact lenses are three times more effective at slowing the
progression of nearsightedness than spectacles. With the nearsighted prescription increasing there is an increase in the dependency
on the correction being worn. Slowing down or stabilizing the advancing prescription can have the added benefit of allowing the
continued function of certain activities without correction as well as avoiding the helpless feeling very nearsighted people have when
they are not wearing their prescription.
Has your child already asked about contact lenses? Have you been considering contact lenses for your child but have been afraid that
they are too young. Join the many parents who have been absolutely amazed at how well their children have done in contact lenses.
Who Are You Calling A 'Myopic Creep!?'
Do you remember as a child, every year you would notice that your vision was not as
good as before since the lights had haloes and you would have to squint to see things far
away? Every year you received the sad news that you needed a stronger prescription and
that your glasses were going to be even thicker than before. You asked if it was ever
going to stop getting worse or would it just get so bad that you eventually would be blind.
The continued worsening of distance vision comes from increasing myopia
(near-sightedness) and is referred to as 'Progressive Myopia' or 'Myopic Creep.'
As you may remember, the more near-sighted you became the more difficult it became to
do even some of the simplest things without wearing your prescription. Watching
television, being able to identify who the person is that is coming toward you, or just
making your way on the beach back to the people you came with after going for a swim.
Of course, operating your car is impossible without your prescription. When the
prescription reaches a certain point, even walking around the relatively safe environment
of your house without your prescription becomes dangerous. The dependency on the
prescription increases dramatically and with this comes the feeling of being
'handicapped' or helpless when not wearing the correction.
Are you seeing history repeat itself through your children? Are their glasses already
being worn full-time and the loss of their freedom from a prescription been realized? The
question I am always asked by parents is if there is anything that can be done to slow
down or stop myopic creep. This has been and continues to be investigated thoroughly
with various strategies and the method that has been shown to be most effective is having
the person wear rigid oxygen permeable contact lenses.
It has been known for many years that people who began wearing firm, inflexible contact
lenses seemed to have no change in their prescription. This was formally studied
approximately ten years ago with the results of this study confirming that rigid lenses
stabilize the myopic creep. Unfortunately, this study did not receive much media
attention and so has gone mostly unnoticed. There are currently multiple myopia control
studies underway which are examining the ability of rigid oxygen permeable contact lenses
(and OrthoKeratology) to stabilize myopic creep.
You can read a summary of some of these studies right here.
Review Current Studies.
The results of these studies should receive much more notoriety than that previous study.
Bringing this to the publicís
attention will be of great benefit to many people.
Rigid oxygen permeable contact lenses have many benefits above and beyond controlling
myopic creep. They; are very healthy, are easy to maintain, are easy to handle, provide
superior vision, have excellent long-term comfort, are durable and very cost effective.
Parents also are very suprised when I recommend contacts for children, but because
contacts can provide so many benefits to this age group, I will routinely fit children four
years and older into contact lenses. Additionally, rigid oxygen permeable contact lenses
can also be used to reduce the prescription already present. The reduction of myopia
through the use of contact lenses is through a procedure known as
OrthoKeratology. OrthoKeratology brings back the freedom
from the dependency on the prescription.
Feel free to call to find
out more about myopic creep and the possibility of slowing, halting, or even reversing the