Children rely heavily on their eyes and vision for learning and development. That’s why it is important for your child to have comprehensive eye examinations early in life, so you can be sure they are able to properly use their eyes to grow and develop. Pediatric eye exams can detect whether or not your child needs glasses, determine how well the eyes are working together and how effective the visual system is, and assess if there are any ocular diseases affecting the front or the back of the eye.
It’s Never Too Early for an Eye Examination
According to clinical guidelines from the American Optometric Association, children should have eye exams at ages six-months, again at three-years, and then before entering school. This ensures that an optometrist is following the child’s visual system through important developmental landmarks. If the doctor detects certain risk factors, such as birth complications or visual developmental delays, they will likely require more frequent eye examinations. It’s important to remember that vision screenings that may occur at school or daycare are helpful in detecting certain abnormalities with the eyes, but do not take the place of a comprehensive pediatric eye examination.
Eye Exams for Kids – What to Expect
Pediatric examinations determine much more than whether or not your child can see 20/20. They are comprehensive evaluations of the visual system and important health assessments. When a child first receives an exam around 6-months-old with our InfantSee program, they are not expected to be able to see 20/20, and are unable to respond regarding glasses prescriptions. In these cases, doctors use objective testing methods to assess visual function and approximate visual acuity. They evaluate how the child views objects, moves their eyes, and uses visual information. The doctor can ensure the child is meeting important visual milestones. As the child gets a little bit older, they are able to provide more feedback and play a more active role in their eye exam. At the three-year-old visit, a combination of objective and subjective testing may be performed to evaluate visual function and determine whether a glasses prescription is required. When the child reaches school age, the optometrist will rely much more on the child’s input and perform more complicated tests to evaluate their eyes. At all pediatric eye exams, the health of the eyes will be evaluated, which may require dilating eye drops.
Protecting Vision and Promoting Learning
Many of the tests performed during pediatric eye exams will evaluate binocularity, or how well the eyes are working together. This is an important aspect of visual development, and can have a huge impact on a child’s ability to learn and process visual information. Some of the conditions the optometrist will check for include strabismus, in which one of the eyes is misaligned, or problems with the eyes’ focusing system. Our optometrists can help your child with many visual issues with vision therapy if a problem is found. The optometrist will also rule out ocular diseases that may carry significant health risks, such as retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that can occur in children’s eyes.
Our eye doctors at Innovative Vision Care in Belton, Missouri excel in the management of eye exams for kids of all ages. If your child is in need of an eye examination call us at 816.331.9590 or request an appointment online today.