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Children's vision development extends well beyond birth and is critical to their success in early learning and achieving developmental milestones. The Alberta Association of Optometrists recommends the first eye exam take place between the ages of 6-9 months, followed by annual exams from the age of 2 through 18.

One of the primary challenges with pediatric and children's eye exams is that they may be unable to participate fully in the assessment, and for toddlers and young children, they may not be able to communicate if anything is amiss. Moreover, many children may perceive any abnormalities as "normal" because they don't have a frame of reference or know any differently.


At birth, children are born with an incomplete visual system and its maturation is dependent on external and environmental factors and stimulation. The physical ocular components develop early however the neurologic components responsible for wiring develop later. In neonates leading into infancy, there are multiple sensitive periods, known as the critical windows of development that must be met to ensure proper growth milestones including axial length elongation, neural circuits, and perceptual and cognitive maturation. 


Many vision problems can be detected at this young stage by using objective measures to test - the optometrist does not require the active participation of your 'tiny human'! As with any condition, the earlier it is caught, the higher the chance of correction for normal development. 


In this stage, children are becoming more curious interacting with the world around them. Visual-spatial skills for hand-eye coordination are being developed as children learn to use not just their vision but to respond accordingly to recruit their other senses. 


Some of the activities they will start to engage in includes looking at and listening to storybooks, painting, drawing, colouring, assembling shapes, and playing with balls. 


Your family may have started to introduce your child to screens at this time - there are few things to keep in mind. When exposed to any type of screen such as a television screen or tablet screen, it is important to physically situate the screen as far as possible from your child. According to the Alberta Association of Optometrists, it is recommended to sit five times the screen's width when watching television. Be mindful of taking multiple and periodic breaks.


The recommended screen time for children two to five years is one hour per day to prevent the negative effects of digital eye strain. It is highly recommended to spend two hours per day outdoors with proper sun protection. There is research showing that time outdoors is protective against premature development of myopia (nearsightedness).


Once in school, it is recommended to have your child visit their family optometrist at least once a year for an annual eye examination. 80% of classroom learning is visual and it is important to ensure that visual acuity and visual skills are intact to facilitate that. 


During this season of life, there can be very drastic changes in both visual acuity and dynamic vision as the demand on the visual system increases significantly. 


Did you know that at this stage, children with vision problems are often misdiagnosed as having learning or behavioural disabilities? Staying on top of your child's yearly examination can avoid these misdiagnoses. 

Optical Glasses


  • Myopia (Nearsightedness)
    This refractive error makes it difficult seeing distant objects, but can see objects that are nearby. The reason is generally because the length of the eye is too long and the focal point of light rays lands in front of the retina making objects appear blurry. This can be corrected optically using prescription spectacles and contact lenses. Myopia is becoming a genuine public health concern globally as by 2050, it is estimated that 50% of the world's population will have some form of myopia. As an individual's myopia increases, it places them at a higher risk to develop potentially blinding conditions in their adulthood such as retinal detachment, maculopathy, and early cataract formation. We are now living in an era where there are many different options to address this pandemic that manages the progression of myopia in our children. Trifecta Optometry is proud to be a clinic that recognizes this disease and places high value in managing it for our patients. Click here to learn more about Myopia Management
  • Hyperopia (Farsightedness)
    Simply, it is theoretically the opposite to myopia. One has the ability to see objects in the distance, however can struggle to read at near. Depending on how high the prescription is, one may be functional unaided, while others may require prescription spectacles part time typically with near work, and others may need them full time for all distances. In this case, the length of the eye is generally too short and the focal point of light rays lands behind the retina making objects appear blurry.
  • Astigmatism
    This is a common vision condition that can contribute to blurry vision. However rather than experiencing blurriness at one distance, it is usually at every distance. Most astigmatism originates from an irregular corneal shape causing light to be dispersed in multiple directions causing the visual obscuration. In other scenarios, the astigmatism can come from the lens of the eye as well. It can be corrected by prescription spectacles and contact lenses.
  • Presbyopia
    This is a natural effect of aging, usually occurring after the age of 40. This is a phenomenon in which the ability to focus on close objects decreases over time and can occur simultaneously and in addition to one's existing refractive error. Left uncorrected, it can cause difficulty with intermediate and near work requiring more light and at times can cause headaches. The need for reading glasses or bifocals and progressive lenses will be necessary to correct.
  • Cataracts
    As we age, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The process is typically gradual and one may be asymptomatic initially, however as they continue to progress, there are many symptoms that can affect the quality of vision. This can include: Blurry or foggy vision Difficulty with night time driving Difficulty with near vision Increased halos, glare, starburst around lights Fading colours Early signs generally start at the age of 60 and once it becomes visually significant, surgical removal will be necessary with the replacement of an implantable intraocular lens.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
    In individuals with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, it can cause changes to the tissues of the eye. Many changes can occur including the development of new blood vessels, white blood cells, swelling and leakage of fluid in the retina only to name a few. These episodes can cause immediate to long term changes to vision including: Spots or floaters in vision Distortion around objects Decreased vision Darkened areas of vision
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration
    This is the leading cause of vision loss among the older population. The macula, the portion of the eye responsible for clear central vision, undergoes a slow deterioration of the tissue as the disease progresses. This causes the central part of the vision to blur and/or distort while sparing your peripheral vision. Some of the early symptoms may include: Blurry and decreased central vision Straights lines may seem bent and distorted Difficulty seeing fine details
  • Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is also known as the "silent killer of sight". It is a disease that starts with almost no symptoms for the individual; once it becomes noticeable, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. Glaucoma is a disease that causes the gradual thinning of the thickness of the tissues of the optic nerve head. At times, high intraocular eye pressure may be associated with the disease however a majority of the time, it is not the case. There are also numerous subtypes of glaucoma as well. Eventually in the disease's end stage, it causes significant peripheral vision loss eventually into tunnel vision. Some symptoms may include: Perception of becoming more clumsy Difficulty shoulder checking when driving Eye pain Redness Headache
  • Dry Eye Disease
    Living in one of the dryest major cities in Canada, Edmonton's environment certainly contributes to the symptoms of Dry Eye Disease. It is simply more than the eye not producing enough tears - in fact, that is typically not the reason for the majority of individuals suffering from Dry Eye. Dry Eye Disease is a multifactorial disease that starts gradually and can compound to the point of causing a negative impact to someone's day-to-day activities. Some of the symptoms can include: Foreign body sensation in the eye Constant red eyes Burning or stinging eyes Itchy eyes Sensitivity to light Fluctuation in vision
  • Keratoconus
    In keratoconus, the cornea begins to thin and gradually bulges outward into a cone shape. This can cause blurry and distorted vision. It generally begins at puberty and progresses into the mid-30s. It typically affects both eyes, with one eye being more severely affected than the other. In the early to mild stages, it can be corrected optically with prescription spectacles and contact lenses, however in the moderate to severe stages, more aggressive treatments may require surgical intervention. As with many eye conditions, early detection is key.
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