Performing a pediatric eye examination requires some special skills. Dr. Lipschultz and the doctors at Southland Eye are proud of the quality and depth of care provided to our young patients. Examining young eyes is truly different than those of adults. We’re looking for problems, or signs of future problems, that parents and usually the young patients, are not able to verbalize.
According to experts, 80% of learning input comes through vision, which means that if your child is having difficulty seeing clearly, learning might be affected. This applies to infants also. Although an infant may not be in a classroom, their visual system is absorbing information and developing day after day. If it’s not getting in properly, some aspects of development may be affected in some way.
To ensure that your children have the visual abilities and skills they need to grow and develop normally, their eyes and vision should be checked by an eye doctor on a regular basis – even if they are not complaining about any vision problems.
Suggested Exam Dates:
Children’s eyes can change rapidly as they grow.According to the American Optometric Association (AOA) children should have their eyes examined by an eye doctor at:
- 6 months (YES! we can identify a multitude of eye problems on babies without them answering questions!)
- 3 years,
- at the start of school,
- and then every 2 years thereafter.
If there are any signs that there may be a vision problem or if the child has certain risk factors (such as developmental delays, premature birth, crossed or lazy eyes, family history or previous injuries) the exam frequency will be modified by the doctor. A child that wears eyeglasses or contact lenses should have his or her eyes examined yearly.
Eye Exams in Infants: Birth – 24 Months
A baby’s visual system develops gradually over the first few months of life. They have to learn to focus and move their eyes, and use them together as a team. The brain also needs to learn how to process the visual information from the eyes to understand and interact with the world. With the development of eyesight, comes also the foundation for motor development such as crawling, walking and hand-eye coordination.
You can ensure that your baby is reaching milestones by keeping an eye on what is happening with your infant’s development and by ensuring that you schedule a comprehensive infant eye exam at 6 months. At this exam, the eye doctor will check that the child is seeing properly and developing on track and look for conditions that could impair eye health or vision (such as strabismus (misalignment or crossing of the eyes), farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism).
Since there is a higher risk of eye and vision problems if your infant was born premature or is showing signs of developmental delay, your eye doctor may require more frequent visits to keep watch on his or her progress.
Eye Exams in Preschool Children: 2-5
The toddler and preschool age is a period where children experience drastic growth in intellectual and motor skills. During this time they will develop the fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and perceptual abilities that will prepare them to read and write, play sports and participate in creative activities such as drawing, sculpting or building. This is all dependent upon good vision and visual processes.
This is the age when parents should be on the lookout for signs of lazy eye (amblyopia) – when one eye doesn’t see clearly, or crossed eyes (strabismus) – when one or both eyes turns inward or outward. The earlier these conditions are treated, the higher the success rate.
Parents should also be aware of any developmental delays having to do with object, number or letter recognition, color recognition or coordination, as the root of such problems can often be visual. If you notice your child squinting, rubbing his eyes frequently, sitting very close to the tv or reading material, or generally avoiding activities such as puzzles or coloring, it is worth a trip to the eye doctor.
Eye Exams in School-Aged Children: Ages 6-18
Undetected or uncorrected vision problems can cause children and teens to suffer academically, socially, athletically and personally. Children that have problems with focusing, reading, teaming their eyes or hand-eye coordination will often experience frustration, and may exhibit behavioral problems. Like many other pediatric problems, children don’t know what is right or wrong with how they see, feel, or perform.
A thorough evaluation of the general aspects of vision typically identifies key issues. Sometimes more in-depth testing is required to identify the exact problem, and to assist the doctor in creating the correct treatment plan for the child.
Symptoms or signs of vision problems in children include:
- Short attention span
- Frequent blinking
- Avoiding reading
- Tilting the head to one side
- Losing their place often while reading
- Double vision or covering an eye
- Poor reading comprehension
Examination of the visual system of children includes:
- Binocular vision: how the eyes work together as a team
- Stereo vision (how the two eyes fuse into one image and create “depth”)
- Strength and flexibility of the focusing system (accommodation)
- Peripheral Vision
- Color Vision
- Hand-eye Coordination
Your eye doctor will also examine the eye and surrounding structures for abnormalities or diseases. Then the inside of the eye will be examined for internal problems that may have been acquired or inherited from the parents.
If a problem is identified, a thorough evaluation is needed to identify the exact diagnosis. Some disorders require specific testing. Your doctor will discuss all that is needed to identify the problem, confirm the diagnosis, and what the treatment options are available for that problem.
Call today for an appointment at Southland Eye Associates.