Dr. Nazima Sangha, originally from North Delta, BC, earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from UBC and a Doctorate of Optometry from the Pacific University College of Optometry in Oregon. After successfully practicing optometry in Richmond, BC for many years she relocated to Victoria and joined the team at the Family Eyecare Centre. Dr. Sangha is committed to maintaining the highest standard of clinical care.
Please Note: For further information about eye health for babies and children, the COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development) website comes highly recommended by Dr. Sangha: COVD
When should my child have his first eye exam?
A first eye exam is recommended anywhere between 6 months to 3 years of age. The earlier the better so that any abnormalities can be corrected while the visual system is still developing. If there is any family history of lazy eye, congenital eye diseases, prematurity, or other hereditary eye diseases it would be prudent to be checked closer to 6 months of age.
Who will examine my child’s eyes?
Optometrists are eye doctors who perform complete vision and eye health examinations to determine if there are any refractive, binocular or health problems with the eyes. They will advise you on the need for eye glasses, vision therapy or prescribe treatment for conditions like bacterial conjunctivitis. Public health nurses perform vision screenings in Kindergarten which check for most vision and binocular anomalies. Ideally, visual problems should be detected and treated earlier than this to ensure better visual outcomes. Family doctors and optometrists can also refer children to Pediatric Ophthalmologists for surgical or specialized medical treatment.
How often should my child have an eye exam?
Generally, eye examinations for children are recommended on a yearly basis until the age of 19yrs. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will advise you of special circumstances requiring more frequent visits. BC Medical covers most or all of the eye examination fee for children once a year to the age of 19yrs.
What are the most common eye conditions in children?
The most common eye conditions include high refractive error (highly nearsighted or farsighted), anisometropia (a large difference between how each eye sees), and amblyopia (typically termed 'lazy eye' where one eye sees far less clearly than the other eye for a variety of reasons: high prescription, eye turn, eye disease). Congenital cataracts is the most common debilitating eye health problem seen in children and retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye) is rare but the most devastating condition of the eye if not caught early.
Are there signs that my child might have vision problems? What should I be looking for?
The list can be long, but the following signs are a good starting point of things to watch for:
- eye turn (one eye moves in a different direction from the other eye. Note in newborns up to the age of 6 months this can be normal but if it persists past 6 months it should be checked)
- frequent eye rubbing other than when they are tired
- tendency to close one eye, hold a hand over one eye or have a head turn or tilt
- holding objects very close or sitting close to the tv
- avoidance of near activities or easily distracted with near activities
Note, that when one eye is seeing clearly and the other is not, the clear eye often takes over and masks any visual problems the other eye is having. Often, I have parents tell me their child can see 'like a hawk' but when we do the eye examination it is one eye that is doing all the work and the other eye is very weak.
At what age would a child be advised to wear glasses?
Children may be advised to wear visual correction as early as 6 months if a significant visual problem is detected. The majority of visual development happens from birth to 6 years of age. The earlier an anomaly is corrected the better the visual outcome.
What are the best glasses for toddlers?
For toddlers we often recommend eye glasses with a strap that goes behind the head or ear pieces that wrap around the ear to help keep them in place . The strap and temples come in a variety of styles and colours to ensure comfort and aesthetics. The lenses are made of polycarbonate or a similar plastic that is most resistant to shattering. Well experienced opticians will be able to help you choose the best lenses and frames for your child.
What are the best glasses for children ?
Children's glasses need to be durable yet flexible so they can be easily adjusted. Titanium metal frames are strong, adjustable and hypoallergenic. Plastic frames are also durable and hypoallergenic but may warp with heat and can be harder to adjust. Frames come in a variety of sizes, colours and designs. It is important to have the child help choose their favourite colour or design so they are motivated to wear their glasses. The lenses should again be a strong plastic like polycarbonate and will require an anti-scratch coating.
Is there anything I can do to ensure good eye health in my child?
Visual activities that promote eye tracking (like watching a ball or plane), eye-hand coordination (like many sports, mazes, colouring), binocularity (like sports or three dimensional toys like building blocks) and visual perception (like 'Find the Difference' or 'Where's Waldo" activities) are encouraged. Appropriate eye protection is recommended for any sports that could result in eye injuries. Frequent hand washing is important when anyone in the house is ill with a contagious condition. And of course, routine eye examinations are recommended to detect and treat any visual or eye health problems.
Dr. Sangha runs Family Eyecare Centre with her partner, Dr. Judith LeRoy. Dr. LeRoy attended the University of Waterloo and graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degree in 1998. She has since developed a keen interest in specialty contact lenses fitting, specifically, those for keratoconic patients and post corneal transplant patients. One of Dr. Leroy's passions is third world eye care work, and as a result she joined TWECS (Third World Eye Care Society). TWECS consists of eye care professionals and individuals who collect used eyeglasses from the public and travel to Third World countries providing free eye care and eyeglasses to the poor. She traveled on missions to Cambodia in 2002 and Kenya in 2006.