Your Child’s Vision is Important
Eye exams are an important part of ensuring that your child is experiencing a great quality of life in his or her formative years. Vision problems can lead to difficulty with coordination and learning. All too often, these issues go undiagnosed. Pediatric ophthalmology is the field of eye care that focuses on younger patients. During a routine exam, your child’s doctor can screen for common conditions. Early intervention and treatment can successfully address most pediatric eye conditions, and can make all the difference in your child’s vision as they grow.
Pediatric eye care keeps your child’s number one learning and development tool in top shape – their vision. Impaired vision is one of the top causes of early childhood development issues. Because children, especially infants, cannot tell you that their vision is impaired, you must rely on pediatric eye care to detect the issue.
Pediatric Eye Care & Ophthalmology
As a parent, we believe you deserve straight answers when confronted by your children’s potential vision issues. By addressing your child’s eye care health early on, you and your family can avoid larger complications, struggles, and frustrations.
- Pediatric Eye Exams: Eye examinations are the foundation of your child’s visual health, and set the tone for your child’s future eye health. Without them, early childhood eye issues cannot be diagnosed and treated. These childhood issues can lead to bigger problems down the road if left untreated. Pediatric eye exams can help avoid that!
- Strabismus: Strabismus is a condition that causes the eyes to be misaligned, colloquially referred to as “cross-eyes”. There are multiple types of strabismus, and therapy or surgery can help fix this issue. When left untreated as a child, strabismus is much harder to correct as an adult.
- Amblyopia (Lazy Eye): Amblyopia is a condition that causes visual impairment in children. One of the most common childhood eye problems in the world, amblyopia is a result of weak or underdeveloped eye muscles. Strabismus can also cause amblyopia. The issue can be fixed through therapy. Amblyopia therapy aims to strengthen the weaker eye by using it more. This can be done by patching the stronger eye, forcing the weaker eye to make up for its absence.
- Diplopia: Diplopia, also known as double vision, can be caused by a number of underlying medical conditions and should be treated quickly. Double vision can severely impact a child’s learning ability. It can be hard to tell if your child is experiencing double vision, especially if they are too young to articulate it. Pediatric eye examinations should detect this problem.
- Retinopathy of Prematurity: Retinopathy of prematurity is a condition that affects premature infants. When a baby is born prematurely, their retinal blood vessels may grow weak and fragile. This causes the blood vessels to leak and break easily – causing blood and fluid to enter the eye cavity. This can cause blind spots in vision and lead to scarring, which can affect vision later in life.
- Children’s Eye Plastics: Children may need eye plastic surgery to correct common issues like tear duct obstruction, eyelid problems or eye socket problems.
- Learning Disabilities:
Learning disabilities can cause issues with learning new skills, but is not an indicator of a lack of intelligence or desire to learn. Common childhood learning disabilities include dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and dysgraphia.
Eye Exams for Children
The American Optometric Association recommends infants undergo a comprehensive eye examination at six months of age. Additional check-ups should be performed at age three and immediately before entering kindergarten. If no vision correction is needed, exams every two years after are sufficient.
Many basic skills related to good eyesight will shape how your child learns. During early exams, we will test these skills, including hand-eye and binocular (using both eyes) coordination, near and distance vision, focusing and eye movement skills, and peripheral awareness.
During an exam, random dot stereopsis, a test using patterns of dots and 3-D glasses, can be used to test how your child’s eyes function in tandem. Retinoscopy may be performed to assess the health of the retina. And instead of using regular eye charts, your child may be asked to identify objects called LEA Symbols®, like an apple or circle, to test their vision.
Screening for Refractive Errors
In addition to screening for conditions like amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed or misaligned eyes), screening for refractive errors is an integral part of a pediatric eye exam. Like adults, children can suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
The Impact of Ocular Health on Your Child’s Quality of Life
Vision problems can have a significant impact on your child. As much as 80% of what your child learns at school is presented visually. If your child has difficulty seeing the teacher at the front of the room, or cannot fully participate in a soccer game during gym class, a host of problems can result.
Eyeglasses are a simple solution that can address most vision problems. In some cases, young children are good candidates for contact lenses. Maturity and responsibility play a larger role than age alone in determining when your child is ready for contacts. During a thorough consultation, our doctors can determine what solution will best meet your child’s needs.
Protect Your Child’s Vision
If a refractive error is found, your child should visit an eye doctor once a year to make certain that his or her prescription is up to date. Clear vision can help your child grow and learn, and it is important to establish regular exams to ensure that your child experiences the best possible vision.