1. Why is it important for children to have their eyes examined?
It is important for children to have the eyes examined by an optometrist in order to evaluate and manage any eye conditions a child may have with or without the parent noticing so that they may develop and grow with the best possible vision.
2. At what age should a child have his or her first eye doctor’s appointment?
A child may have their first evaluation at 6 months of age, again at age 3, and every year thereafter through their childhood years. During a child’s first 18 years, an optometrist may also want to have the child seen in 6 month intervals if necessary secondary to prescription changes or for disease management.
3. Are there any signs that a child should have his or her eyes checked?
Many times, signs and symptoms from a child go unnoticed. These are some of the more common ones parents should be aware of so that they may help their child as soon as they first appear. A child may rub one or both of their eyes in order to try to clear up their vision. A child may also turn their head or change their posture in order to see better without eye strain. In younger children, they may be more accident prone. As children age, reading may become problematic for school aged children. They will complain of headaches, may push reading material away, or abstain from reading all together.
4. Why is pediatric eye care different from adult eye care?
A pediatric examination is different from an adult because you are evaluating a few more areas of eye development that you don’t normally do with adults. An optometrist will check for eye alignment, ability to fixate and follow an object, color vision, and ability to see in 3D. A child may also need to have further evaluation if they are not able to use both eyes together, also known as a binocular vision examination.
5. What can a child / parent expect during a pediatric eye exam?
Both parent and child can expect to have pre-testing and testing in the doctor’s room. During pre-testing, we hope to get results that would allow us to determine a starting point for a glasses prescription if needed, the pressure in the eyes, the limitations if any of their visual field, a photo for gross evaluation of the back of the eye, color vision testing, and 3D testing. They may also check their blood pressure. In the doctor’s room, the doctor will check for glasses and look at the health of the eye with microscopes, called slit lamps. Most children will also be dilated so a more thorough exam may be performed.
6. What do you look for in during a pediatric eye exam?
During an exam, the optometrist is looking to make sure the eyes are aligned; the child is using eyes together, a glasses prescription, and diseases of the eyes. They want to make sure they are giving the child their best possible vision so they may grow and develop without any issues or school learning disabilities.
7. In addition to a routine eye exam, what other services do parents bring their children to your office for?
Along with normal comprehensive eye examinations, optometrists can also treat your child’s pink eye or any other complication that happens with the eye. Often times, an optometrist is your best starting point if you think your child has an eye infection or an abrasion of the eye since they will have all the equipment necessary for evaluation right there in the office.
8. What is your busiest time of year for eye exams for kids?
The busiest time of year for children to have their eyes examined is in August before school starts and through the first two months of the school year when nurses are screening children.
9. Is there a story that was particularly successful or inspirational about pediatric eye care at your office?
I remember when I first started in practice a mom brought her 9 year old son in to see me because she was concerned his eyes were why he was going to be held back in 3rd grade. The mom told me her son was smart, but the school was telling her that he needed a reading tutor, an IEP, and to be held back a year in order to catch up to his peers as well as summer school. When I asked her about his eyes, she said that he didn’t complain about his eyes, but did have frequent headaches and disliked reading. After a thorough examination, which included dilation, I found that he was farsighted with astigmatism. So, I prescribed a pair of glasses for this young man. I decided to follow-up in 3 months to check his progress. At his follow-up, the mom informed me that after summer school, he was caught up to his peers, at a normal reading level, and would not be held back. She was in tears because she was so happy. She was relieved her son just needed a pair of glasses in order to learn efficiently. This is just one of many stories like this I have had since then, but this is my most memorable.