Finding out about poor eyesight in little ones is a real tough job. Most of the time, parents only learn of the problem from their kids’ teachers. In some cases, parents don’t even believe that their kids can’t see well!
That’s why ophthalmologist Dr. Pik Sha Chan-Uy of Pacific Eye Laser Institute reiterates the need for early vision screening. “The problem with diagnosing children is they won’t complain,” says the ophthalmologist who specializes in Cataract Surgery, Laser Surgery, Treatment of Retinal Diseases, and Children’s Eye Diseases. “They will just try to adapt to their poor vision. They don’t know better—for them, it’s just a normal thing.”
Dr. Chan-Uy continues, “Often, it is the teacher who notices the vision problem, so he tells the parents, ‘Perhaps you should take your child to the doctor to have his eyes checked.’ When kids try to adapt to blurry vision, they tend come closer to the blackboard to copy down notes, or hold a book too closely to their face. At home, you might notice that they sit too close to the screen when watching TV.”
Identifying vision problems is crucial especially before the child turns 7 years old. Dr. Chan-Uy says that vision is developed in the early years, when the brain fine-tunes its interpretation of the light or image received by the eyes. The product of this eye-brain “teamwork” is what the doctor calls “the vision in the brain”—basically, it refers to how people see the world around them. The vision that is developed during the crucial years will be the vision the person will use for a lifetime.
“How we see involves the eye and the brain,” explains the doctor. “From birth to 7 or 8 years old, our vision develops: whatever the eyes see, the brain will just accept it. The brain is like a data bank—it doesn’t check to see if what it’s receiving is correct, it just collects and saves.” The danger there is, if by 7 years, the vision has not been corrected, the person would never know better. His brain would remember blurry images, which cannot be corrected by wearing glasses.