Your child’s eye health is a vital part of overall development, and if refractive errors and other eye irregularities aren’t corrected early on, it could affect your child for the rest of their life. While scheduling a pediatric eye exam may seem daunting or unimportant, doctors must have the opportunity to determine whether your child’s eyes are developing and performing correctly. It is recommended for children of all ages from newborn and infant to preschool and school-age to receive regular eye exams to ensure optimal functioning as they grow.
The Importance of Regular Eye Exams
Booking regular eye exams for your child is vital to ensure your child’s eyes are healthy, and no vision problems are occurring that could interfere with school, sports, and your child’s safety. Getting a pediatric eye exam early on will help doctors verify that your child has the necessary visual skills essential for optimal learning:
- Varying Distance Visual Acuity
- Eye Teaming Skills
- Eye Movement Skills
- Focusing Skills
Early on, detecting any vision problems is vital so doctors can provide the necessary care and adjustments for your child. The use of technology has continued to rise in popularity over the years, making vision correction that much more critical to ensure your child’s eyes aren’t straining more than necessary. During the pediatric eye exam, your doctor will be looking for a variety of vision problems from hyperopia and myopia to strabismus and astigmatism.
The Pediatric Eye Exam Process
It’s recommended that your child’s vision be checked when they’re firstborn and during infancy, preschool, and school-age. It may seem excessive, but as your child grows, their vision and eyes change, making it incredibly important to ensure their vision remains clear. If visual impairment is left undiagnosed, your child’s brain will adapt to blurry vision, thus making it their normal. Pediatric eye exams are available to verify that your child can focus on objects both at a distance and up close.
Newborn and Infants
After your baby is born, the eyes should be examined to ensure that they are healthy. If your baby was born premature or at high risk for medical issues, it’s encouraged to schedule a pediatric eye exam immediately. At six months of age, your child should have another exam scheduled, and during this appointment, your doctor will check for the following:
- Normal Development
- Pupil Responses to Light
- “Fixate and Follow”
- Preferential Looking
Between six months and a year old, your child should be able to see just as well as an adult when it comes to focusing ability, color vision, and depth perception. It’s incredibly important to schedule these initial exams to ensure everything is on track, and your child’s eyesight is developing correctly.
When your child reaches the age of three, another appointment should be scheduled. Rest assured, with the advancements that are occurring today, your child doesn’t need to know the alphabet to receive a pediatric eye exam. Commonly doctors use images and symbols so children can communicate that way. During your child’s preschool eye exam, the following tests may be completed:
- LEA Symbol Test
- Random Dot Stereopsis
In addition to overall visual acuity, your doctor will also check to see how your child’s eyes are developing and if any visual impairments emerge, such as amblyopia, strabismus, depth perception, and convergence insufficiency. Additionally, your child will be screened for a variety of eye health problems from infected eyelash follicles and swelling to irregularities in the cornea and iris.
At this point in your child’s life, any refractive errors should be corrected, but regular comprehensive eye exams are still vital. If your child is unable to see the whiteboard during class, it can lead to frustration and poor school performance. There are several signs you should look out for that may mean it’s time to schedule another eye exam:
- Reading Comprehension Level
- Poor Handwriting
- Shorter Than Normal Attention Span
- Losing Place While Reading
- Avoiding Reading
- Eyelid Twitching
- Unusual Head Adjustments When Focusing
- Excessive Blinking
- Lack of Eye Contact
- Eye Rubbing
- Delayed Motor Skills Development
- Irregular Eye Tracking
Due to the ever-changing industry and impressive technological advancements, pediatric eye doctors have access to state-of-the-art equipment and techniques that don’t require your child to provide the doctor with any feedback. Any measurements that are taken are entirely painless and designed with your child’s attention span in mind.
Scheduling Your Child’s Exam
Doctors can be nerve-racking when you’re young, so it’s important to schedule your child’s eye exam for a time when they’re generally alert and happy. This will help them feel comfortable and make it likely that they will participate with the doctor. Eye exam necessities differ by age, meaning your child’s infant eye exam compared to school-age may vary. The typical pediatric eye exam includes the following:
- Case History
- Vision Testing
- Eye Alignment
- Eye Health
- Refractive Error Correction
Your child’s eye doctor will discuss overall medical history in-depth, including any current or past medications. During your child’s appointment, it’s crucial that you provide a family history of refractive errors, eye diseases, or other eye irregularities. Providing this information will help your child’s doctor build a thorough, accurate file and give the doctor an idea of issues they may have to watch for as your child grows.
Book Your Child’s Pediatric Eye Exam Today
Whether you’re getting close to giving birth, have already had your child, or your child is in preschool or grade school, it’s incredibly important to start thinking about scheduling a pediatric eye exam. The development of your child’s eyes and vision directly affects their overall development, quality of life, and learning abilities. If you’re unsure of where to schedule your child’s pediatric eye exam, ask friends and family if they have any recommendations, otherwise, your primary care provider should have access to resources. Schedule your child’s eye exam today to ensure your child’s eyes are healthy and developing correctly.