Has your child had his or her eyes checked lately? Early eye exams are an important part of ensuring good eye health for young children, even those as young as six-months old.
“There’s a misconception that kids don’t need to have their eyes examined until they start school,” says Dr. Errin Bligh, an optometrist at FYidoctors, located in the Royal City Centre in New Westminster. “But the earlier they come in the better, so we can monitor their development from an early stage.”
In addition to serving the varied needs of adult patients, the clinic runs a successful pediatric practice, using advanced equipment that allows the Doctors of Optometry to examine a child’s eyes before the child is able to talk. Amazingly, the equipment lets the doctor know what a child can or can’t see.
With a six-month old child, the Doctors of Optometry at FYidoctors are looking for any significant problems that will affect a child’s visual development, or even their general health, as signs of health conditions often appear in the eyes first.
Dr. Bligh attributes part of the clinic’s pediatric success to its all-female team of eight Doctors of Optometry—a unique approach in the healthcare field.
“Children feel comfortable in our clinic,” she says. “We examine their eyes with a series of ‘eye games’, have lots of toys for them to play with, and a pretty sweet treasure chest from which they choose a prize at the end of the exam. We often have kids saying we’re their favourite doctor’s office to visit.”
Outside the clinic, the doctors make a point of reaching out to the New Westminster community, giving talks to schools, daycares and community centres about the importance of eye health for children.
“The fact is that 1 in 4 kids have a vision problem that affects learning, although many actually pass a vision screening at school” says Dr. Bligh. “Our advanced technology often detects diseases and conditions missed by checks performed at school or at the family doctor’s office. We really encourage regular exams with a Doctor of Optometry.”
FYidoctors participates in two independently-funded programs that provide eye exams and free glasses to children in need.
According to Dr. Bligh, eyes can act as early indicators for other health conditions in the body such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers, which further stresses the importance of regular exams for both children and adults.