PUBLISHED: 4:50 PM on Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Give children home vision tests
Problem sighting

Courtesy photo
  Dr. David McCartney, chair of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center's department of ophthalmology said parents with poor vision should monitor their children for change in vision.
The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their eyes examined before their first birthday, but only one in 10 parents follow that suggestion.

And not all experts subscribe to the association's push for exams anyway.

Pediatricians are trained to recognize signs of pediatric vision problems and would likely discover any irregularities in a child's vision, according to Dr. David McCartney, chair of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center's department of ophthalmology. So make sure to get you children to their regular checkups.

Most public schools have a pretty reliable vision-screening process, McCartney said.

Parents' vision problems can be passed on to their children. Vision is partly hereditary. A child of two nearsighted parents is more likely to be nearsighted than a child from parents with uncorrected 20/20 vision.

Parents with poor vision should monitor their children with various methods to see if they display any signs of troubled vision.

Here are some simple tests that McCartney says people can give themselves and their children to test their vision. If there are problems, then go for the examination.

The moon method

Have a child to look at the moon at night. Can he see details such as craters and color variations on the moon's surface? How about the moon's edge? Is it in focus?

If not, there may be a problem with his eyes.

Don't forget to use both eyes. Try the technique with both eyes open, and then take turns using just one eye with the other one covered.

Sometimes, one eye can see better than the other.

Spot the plane

Asking your child to spot a high-flying jet. First, determine if he can see the plane. Next, ask him to describe how it looks. Is it in focus or blurry? Compare the child's description to what you see. Any difference could signify a vision problem - with you or your child.

As with the moon method, have the child alternate eyes.

Red-eye trick

The red-eye trick is a little harder. You'll need a photograph of your child that features the red eyes that sometimes accompany the flash of a camera.

If the red in the eyes is not symmetrical or even in both eyes, it could signify vision problems. Also look for differences in size, color and intensity of the red spots on the eyes. Any differences could also mean there's a problem with vision.