More than 25% of children in the U.S. wear glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision.1 Children with undiagnosed eye conditions may have issues seeing chalkboards, reading or retaining information in class.2 If your child is having challenges in school, it may be worth your time to have their eyes checked.
The 2 most common eye conditions in school-aged children are near- and farsightedness. In addition to nearsightedness, also called “myopia,” or farsightedness, some children have other vision conditions like astigmatism.3
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular eye exams for all children, only 39% of preschool-aged children in the U.S. have had an eye exam.4
What are the symptoms of vision conditions for children?
If you notice any issues with your child between his or her annual eye exams, see your eye doctor right away. Possible symptoms of a vision condition include:5
- Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
- Frequent headaches
- Covering 1 eye
- Short attention span
- 1 eye turning in or out
- Losing one’s place when reading
- Trouble with reading retention
What diet and vitamins support eye health and good vision?
If you’re a parent, you know how important it is to incorporate healthy foods and nutrients into your child’s diet. If you’re looking to promote your child’s eyesight, a variety of oils, minerals and vitamins found in many foods can help you.
There are other vitamins and minerals that may offer benefits, including:6
- Zinc, which is in meat, peanuts, and oysters
- Lutein, which is in spinach and kale
- Vitamin C, which is in citrus fruits, bell peppers and broccoli
- Carotenoids, which are found in carrots, kale and spinach
How do I provide vision care for kids under 5?
Proper vision screenings are a must for early detection and treatment. The examination for newborns is for general eye health and includes blink and pupil response checks and a “red reflex test” to test retina health.7
Well-baby exams from birth to 36 months should also include vision checkups. Your child’s doctor will use your child’s history and a vision test to find out if vision conditions exist.
From ages 3 to 5, pediatricians or eye care specialists should perform regular exams to judge visual acuity, or sharpness. These exams will also check the ocular alignment, which shows whether your child may have amblyopia (a condition where one eye has trouble focusing) or other conditions.
Go to an eye specialist if there’s ever a concern during a regular vision screening. An optometrist or an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care) can give your child an in-depth eye exam. The American Academy of Ophthalmologists recommends comprehensive eye exams if children fail vision screenings, are at risk for eye conditions or if they are referred by a healthcare professional.8
How do I provide vision care for school-age children?
Because vision can change during the school years, these are very important times for yearly eye exams.
Issues with eye focusing, eye tracking or eye coordination can impact school performance. Many children with undetected vision conditions could develop issues with remembering information, hyperactivity or distractibility.
The American Optometric Association says that undetected vision conditions can be misdiagnosed. For example, some behaviors in children with vision conditions are mistaken for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.9
Vision is important to learning.
Without good vision, a child’s ability to comprehend the world suffers. Since vision conditions can begin at an early age, regular eye checkups are an important way to help children perform well in school.
What should I consider when purchasing glasses or contacts for my children?
Today, just over 25% of kids in the U.S. wear eyeglasses or contacts.10 If you’re the parent of 1 of these children, here are 5 things to think about before you go to the optical shop.11
Plastic or metal?
Children’s eyeglass frames are made of either plastic or metal. In the past, plastic frames were a better choice for children. They were considered more durable and less likely bend or break. But now more metal frames are built for children’s wear and tear.
The right bridge fit
Choosing the right frames for young children is hard because their noses aren’t finished growing. Because children don’t have a “bridge” on their noses, they can have trouble with plastic frames sliding down. Metal frames, which are made with adjustable nose pads, fit everyone’s bridge.
Once you and your child agree on frames, the next thing to think about is the lenses. Children’s lenses should be made of something good and strong. 2 popular choices are a kind of plastic called polycarbonate or a material called Trivex.
These lightweight materials are much less likely to break than other lens materials. Glass is the least desirable material for your child’s lenses. Even though it might be treated to resist impact from, say, a flying soccer ball, glass still shatters when it breaks.
If the prescription calls for thick lenses, keep the frames as small as possible. This will reduce the final lens thickness.
Children can be hard on their eyewear. So it’s always a good idea to buy a second pair of glasses. Ask your optician if there are any discounts if you buy 2 pairs of glasses. You might also ask about prescription sports goggles if your child spends a lot of time on the playing field. These goggles can be sometimes be used as a spare pair of glasses.
Does Humana provide vision care for children?
Humana provides vision and dental care plans for families, including children. Explore your options for vision coverage or speak with a Humana specialist to discuss adding vision coverage to your children’s healthcare plans.
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