September 18, 2014

With the hustle and bustle of back to school, most parents wouldn’t think of an eye exam as being a top-of-the-list priority once the end of August rolls around.

But with the majority of learning at school—and outside of school—being done visually, a child’s eye health is just as important as making sure you get all the school supplies on your annual checklist.

At eyeDOCS Ottawa, we recommend that children receive annual eye exams to ensure their eyes are healthy, and there are no problems that could get in the way of their visual learning.

First Hand Pediatric Eye Care Experience

EyeDocs optometrist Dr. Nathan Stolch, knows first hand the importance of
children’s eye health, and has dedicated his career to ensuring exceptional eye care for his patients.

To say Dr. Stolch’s commitment to the field of optometry has been a life-long passion would not be an overstatement.

Dr. Stolch discovered his future career path through conversations with eyeDOCS Ottawa’s Dr. William Clarke during the course of his own regular eye examinations.

“When I was a teenager and thinking of my future, I talked to him about what it was like to be an optometrist and what it would be like as a career,” explains Dr. Stolch.

These conversations led Dr. Stolch to begin working at eyeDOCS Ottawa as a part-time summer student. It was here that he developed a passion for optometry and discovered the positive impact he could have on a patient’s vision and their overall health.

Learn more about Dr. Nathan Stolch’s background as a primary care optometrist by listening to the audio clip below:

80% of a Child’s Learning is Visual

At a young age, children learn the majority of what they know through visual cues. That means the health of your child’s eyes is incredibly important to early development both leading into school and for their social engagement with peers.

About 80% of a child’s learning is visual, so it is extremely important that their vision allows them to see everything they need to see. This is something Dr. Stolch has dedicated a large part of his career to.

“There’s so much brain development going on in the early years that is heavily weighted towards vision,” explains Stolch. “So that’s where intervention is needed sooner rather than later with kids. It’s what we call a ‘critical period’ where we can’t actually help it if we see the children too late.”

The best way to ensure that this critical period is not missed, explains Stolch, is to schedule regular eye exams with a professional optometrist.

Listen to the audio clip below to hear from Dr. Nathan Stolch about the importance of healthy vision for your child’s development:

Identifiying Common Signs of Eye Problems

To ensure that your child’s eyes are healthy, Dr. Stolch recommends starting to schedule routine eye exams yearly when your child is as young as 6 months old, and even earlier if you notice a problem.

At this young age, Dr. Stolch explains, common childhood vision problems can be corrected to limit their effect on your child’s learning and development.

Some of the most common eye conditions that can effect a child’s visual learning include:

  • Strabismus, or ‘cross eyes’
  • Amblyopia, when one or both eyes are weaker than they should be
  • Eye Infections, such as pink eye
  • Underdeveloped tear ducts, that cause the eyes to be watery and red

While each of these common conditions can be treated fairly easily with glasses, eye patches or surgery, they first need to be diagnosed by a trained optometrist during a routine eye exam.

For parents who may be concerned about their child’s vision, Dr. Stolch recommends looking out for some common ‘red flags’ in your child’s behavior that may indicate a problem. These red flags can include squinting, rubbing one eye, not fully opening their eyes, poor attention span, the child complaining of headaches, and the eyes not tracking properly.

“There are many, many different symptoms that can indicate many different problems,” explains Dr. Stolch. “Because the children are growing so quickly and the eyes are changing quite rapidly, we like to keep on top of that development.”

Watch the video below to learn see Dr. Stolch demonstrating common optometry tools on CTV Ottawa.

Stolch CTVClick here to watch the video >>

Maintaining Eye Health Throughout Your Life

Your eye health and vision changes numerous times during your life, explains Dr. Stolch, so it is very important to maintain a routine eye exam schedule even when you and your children get older.

Apart from early childhood, vision tends to change again during your teenage years, in your forties and again later on in life.

To ensure a happy and healthy life with good vision, Dr. Stolch again recommends scheduling regular checkups with your eye doctor to help flag and treat any problems that may occur as your eyes change, even if you don’t think anything is wrong.

“A healthy eye is something that we can only determine by regular health assessments with your optometrist to ensure that everything is healthy and that you’ll be able to see well and comfortably for the rest of your life,” explains Dr. Stolch.

“The thing for older patients to realize is that 20/20 vision, or ‘good’ vision does not equate healthy eyes.”

Hear Dr. Nathan Stolch’s recommendations for maintaining your eye health as you age by listening to the audio clip below: