From birth through to toddler stage, your child has developed vision skills and learned how to see. This process is ongoing, and during the preschool period the development of visually guided eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills, and visual motor skills take place and contribute towards the ability to read.
During this time you should be alert for signs that may suggest a vision development problem: short attention span for the child’s age, inadequate hand-eye coordination when ball playing or bike riding, and a tendency to avoid coloring, puzzles and other activities that require attention to detail.
Helping Your Preschooler
There are daily tasks you can do to help your child’s vision develop as it should:
- Read aloud and let your child see what you are reading.
- Use a chalkboard, finger paints and blocks of varying shape to engage your child in imaginative play.
- Construct a jungle gym and other safe playground equipment for your child to play on.
- Ensure your child interacts with other children as well as spending time alone.
At about age 3, your child should have a comprehensive eye examination to check vision development and signs of eye disease. Your optometrist may, if necessary, prescribe eyeglasses and vision therapy to correct a vision condition that requires immediate attention.
A comprehensive eye examination for a toddler can be a daunting prospect. Experts suggest the following to ensure the examination is a positive and not a frightening experience:
- Make sure your optometrist has experience in dealing with toddlers.
- Make an early appoint and allow about one hour.
- Talk about the examination in advance and encourage your child’s questions.
- Explain the nature of the exam at the level of your child. For example, comparing the E chart to a puzzle and the instruments to tiny flashlights and a kaleidoscope.
Your child’s next eye examination should be around age 5, at which your eye care practitioner can compare the two examination results and tell you if your child’s vision development is on track for the school years.
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