The American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive eye exam for children starting at 6 months old. There are three main components of an eye exam; vision, health and how the eyes work together. Emphasis is also placed on identifying and treating any eye problems that may interfere with a patient’s potential in learning or overall development.
But my child can’t speak or identify letters yet:
Not to worry! There are many ways to adapt optometric techniques so that we still get valuable information without needing for them to respond. We use objective techniques that still enable us to determine need for a prescription, see the important ocular structures and measure eye alignment.
My child had a screening at the pediatrician or at school already:
Screenings involve very simple tests that do not thoroughly evaluate the three different components of our visual system.
How often should children be evaluated?
The recommendation from the American Optometric Association is at 6 months, 3 years, prior to 1st grade and every two years after if there do not seem to be any vision issues or problems with the eyes. Children who have additional risk factors for development of eye or vision problems should be seen more frequently.
What are the risk factors?
– Were premature, of low birth weight or needed oxygen at birth
– Have a family history of eye disease, or significant prescriptions
– Have an eye turn
– Are developmentally delayed
– Are not meeting their potential in school
– Have frequent headaches
– Don’t like to read, or avoid reading
– See double
But my child doesn’t tell me that their eyes bother them:
Children are very good at adapting to their environment and assume everyone sees the same as they do. They may not complain of not being able to see far away, or of seeing double, or of words moving on a page. A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to ensure all visual components are working well so that they can focus on being a kid!
What’s involved in a comprehensive eye exam?
A thorough history of the child’s development will be discussed. Each exam will be tailored to your child. All children should have a dilated exam as they have a tendency to over focus their eyes and can “disguise” a higher prescription. The strong dilation drops are required to relax their focusing system and uncover their true prescription. With the drops, their near vision will be blurred for 4-6 hours and they will also be more light sensitive. During the 30-45 min that it takes to dilate, you can go for a walk, or eat a snack in our office. At the end, all three components of visual system will be discussed with corresponding treatment options.
Please give us a call if you have any questions or if you’d like to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child!
Schedule with Dr. Angela To, our pediatric specialist or another one of our fantastic doctors.
– Angela To, OD