Parents have a responsibility to ensure that children develop healthy eyesight, meaning it’s best if you start scheduling your child’s eye exam right away. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), preschoolers and school-age kids are the most affected by vision issues. Early detection of vision problems prevents dealing with costly complications that may result in permanent loss of vision.
The AOA recommends comprehensive eye examinations starting at six-months. Moreover, the association advises parents to schedule an eye exam when a child is three years old. School-going children should have their eyes checked every two years. Let’s read on to learn more about navigating eye care for your child.
What Should You Expect During Your Child’s Eye Exam?
As is with any other visit to a doctor, preparation for an eye exam is crucial. For children who understand what is happening, it’s important to set time aside to explain the procedure in a way that is easy to interpret.
Spend time sharing with your child that the eye doctor will ask them to complete a variety of tests. For instance, the eye doctor will have objects such as shapes, letters, and pictures that your child will have to identify. Also, the doctor may have to use eye drops, and while this might be irritating, it does not hurt. It can be helpful to speak with your child honestly and clearly – almost as if you were explaining it to an adult.
An ophthalmoscope helps determine the alignment of your child’s eyes. The instrument works like a torch by sending a beam of light into the eyes. Through this, the eye doctor can establish whether the eye points toward the light or outside of the beam’s reflection.
Another approach is to cover one eye and observe the uncovered one. The doctor then repeats the process with the other eye. A pointer is used to make back-and-forth movements to track motion. If motion occurs, it means your child’s eyes may be misaligned.
Eye doctors typically use eye drops when examining children. Eyedrops may result in a temporary stinging sensation along with blurry vision. That is why we recommend preparing your child for this test if they have not done it before.
Eyedrops help dilate the pupils allowing the optometrist to view inside the eye. The doctor examines features like the optic nerve, retina, and blood vessels. Eye drops help determine whether your child has a refractive or focusing error. Wearing glasses helps rectify the two conditions.
Common Pediatric Eye Tests
If your child is one year or below, a pediatric eye test checks for a variety of common eye problems, such as:
- Nearsightedness: Your child can see close objects, but distant ones are blurry.
- Farsightedness: Your child sees objects that are far away, but close ones are blurry.
- Amblyopia: Your child has a weakness in one eye.
- Astigmatism: Your child suffers from incorrectly shaped eyes.
Other tests include checking whether your child’s eyes line up correctly, how they react to darkness and light, and movement. If your child is between the ages of three and five, doctors carry out a vision screening test using letters, pictures, and pie charts. Let’s explore an example below:
Random E’s Visual Acuity Test
Random E’s Visual Acuity Test is another procedure through the Tumbling E game, an activity that every child eventually loves. The game tests your child’s ability to see the detail in an object and requires them to show where the letter ‘E’ points. An example of this test goes as follows:
- Your child’s eye doctor will hold three fingers mimicking the letter ‘E’, and point in different directions.
- Each time your child’s eye doctor points in a direction, your child will be asked to identify where the fingers of the letter ‘E’ face.
It is an exciting game that you can also practice at home to prepare your child for their appointment. Older children will not be subjected to this test since their understanding is better than their younger counterparts. For this age group, your child’s eye doctor uses pictures like a car, house, or bicycle. If the patient identifies these objects correctly, then everything is functioning as normal. Their visual acuity is excellent.
What to Bring to Your Child’s Eye Appointment
Before the initial visit to an ophthalmologist, ensure that you are ready with information about any allergies your child suffers from, surgical procedures performed in the past, and any current medical issues.
Carry contact lenses or glasses if your child has used corrective eyewear in the past. Also, inform the pediatric eye expert of other doctors who have given your child an exam. Information from previous appointments will help your child’s eye doctor with the consultation and help them gain further insight into your child’s health..
Remember to carry an insurance card to settle the bills, current medications, and medical records for previous examinations. At the same time, come prepared to ask as many questions as possible since this is the best opportunity to understand how best you can help your child.
Pediatric eye exams are not the same as those of an adult. Unlike adults, children often have a short attention span, meaning that your child’s eye doctor will be skilled and efficient in examining. It’s important for your child to feel relaxed and not intimidated by the doctor or nurses at an eye clinic. Often, the team providing your child care will encourage you to keep your child company for the duration of the appointment, so everyone can feel comfortable and happy.
Make Your Child’s Pediatric Eye Exam Successful
Your child trusts you more than anyone else, meaning they rely on the information you share. Our team of outstanding doctors recommends you set a light mood by talking with your child about their upcoming eye exam. Not only will this encourage and assure them that there’s nothing to be afraid of, but you will help them overcome any unfamiliar doubt. If you’re ready to schedule your child’s pediatric eye exam, we encourage you to contact the team at Art of Optiks today. We look forward to caring for your child, so they can see clearly.