Back to School | Why Routine Eye Exams are Important
It’s back to school and time to schedule routine eye exam for your child. Every child should get a thorough eye exam every year. The eye, along with the rest of the growing child, grows until about age 18-21. Until then, your child can expect to have continuous changes in their refraction (need for glasses) and vision.
Once the child has matured and the eyes stop growing, the prescription and vision will stabilize.
As the eye grows, the distance between the surface of the cornea and retina gets longer. This is also known as the axial length of the eye.
All children become more nearsighted as they grow. As the axial length of the eye increases with growth, the eye becomes more nearsighted.
The normal axial length of an adult eye, where no glasses or contact lenses are needed, is about 23 mm long.
Eyes with a shorter axial length (i.e. babies and toddlers) are farsighted (aka hyperopic). As they eyes mature and the axial length increases beyond 23 mm, the eye becomes nearsighted (aka myopic).
A full term newborn has an axial length, the distance between the surface of the cornea and the surface of the retina, of about 17 mm in length.
By definition, most babies, therefore, are actually born farsighted. As the eye grows larger, the axial length increases, causing the vision to move in the nearsighted direction, that is, as eyes grow they become more nearsighted.
Babies who might need glasses for extreme nearsightedness, may “grow” out of the glasses as they grow and become more nearsighted.
This also means that young children who are nearsighted, will naturally become more nearsighted as they age.
In neither case are the eyes getting “better” or “worse” - it’s a natural function of a growing eye.
As the eye grows, the refraction (the power of lens needed to see clearly) continues to change. For every millimeter (mm) change in the axial length, the prescription changes by 3 diopters.
If is for this reason that kids should get examined on a regular basis to insure they are able to see well enough to read and participate in the classroom.
It is not unusual for children to need to change glasses every year, or sometimes, more often.
Regardless, call to make an appointment to get your child examined.
We look forward to seeing you. If you have questions or want to make an appointment, please give us a call.
Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director