When Clarence the cross-eyed lion starred in a 1965 movie of the same name, followed by a CBS TV series called “Daktari,” no one worried about whether or not the amiable young cat was having a hard time reading his lines!
But for youngsters 36 to 72 months old, getting vision problems identified and treated early is essential so that they can become school-ready and develop age-appropriate mental and social skills.
That's because, just like kids learn to walk, their brain learns how to see. If vision problems develop (and go untreated) the brain finds ways to work around the problem, and that causes even more problems.
Newly released recommendations from the expert panel at the National Center for Children's Vision Health say an annual eye exam from an optometrist or ophthalmologist is best for children 3 to 6 years old; but all kids should have at least one eye exam during those years.
The exam should look at whether they need glasses, or have misaligned eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia).
If your young child does have vision problems, there are effective treatments.
Glasses can ease problems with visual acuity, and exercises may help realign misaligned eyes.
Lazy eye may result from crossed eyes or having a large difference in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes.
Eye surgery can equalize eye muscles, while prescription glasses, eye exercises, and wearing an eye patch can train the brain to use both eyes together.
Now your kids can see things straight for the rest of their life!
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