Childhood and pediatric eye care services are available at Thom Eye and Laser Clinic. It is important to have children examined periodically starting at a few months of age.
How Frequently Do Kids Need Eye Exams?
Here is the timeline from the AOA for when children should have their eyes examined:
- Children 5 years and younger — Children under three should see a pediatrician to check for the most common eye problems, such as lazy eye. Otherwise, children between 3 and 5 should see Dr. Thom and our team for their eye examination.
- School-age children and teens — Your child needs his or her vision checked before they enter first grade. From there, vision should be checked every one or two years to be sure their refraction/vision correction prescription hasn’t changed.
Dr. Thom can use a variety of tests to help identify early childhood eye disorders.
What Types Of Tests Are Used For Preschool-Age Children?
Some parents assume children need to know all of their letters to undergo eye tests, but this isn’t the case. There are many available tests used specifically for young children that are different than the regular eye tests used for school-age children.
Dr. Thom may use some or all of these tests for your preschooler:
- LEA symbols — These are similar to regular eye tests using charts with letters, but the letters are replaced with special symbols, such as an apple, house, square, and circle.
- Retinoscopy — Dr. Thom shines a light into the eye to observe the reflection from the retina at the back. This looks for any clouding with a congenital cataract or for significant refractive errors.
- Random dot stereopsis — Special patterns of dots and 3D glasses are used to measure how well your child’s eyes work in tandem.
When Should Infants Have Their Eyes Tested?
Most parents know when they are supposed to have their children immunized and many other timelines. But when it comes to having their child’s eyes checked they aren’t sure. Parents often have no idea when their child should first have his or her eye examined. These exams are critical, however, because poor vision can hold a child back in development and later in school performance. Plus, eye exams can catch childhood vision diseases and conditions before they can cause permanent vision damage. The American Optometric Association (AOA) estimates that from 5-10 percent of preschoolers and one quarter of school-aged children have vision problems.
The AOA recommends that infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Beyond that, the next eye exam should be at age 3, and then again just before the child enters kindergarten or first grade, around age 5 or 6.
Why Infant Eye Exams Are Important
Just because you don’t think of babies as having to read small text and other more stringent uses of their eyes, they need to see just as well as adults. Infants need to have focusing ability, color vision, and depth perception by 6 months of age. This allows them to explore their world and to develop on the normal timeline.
How Is An Infant’s Vision Tested?
Here are the typical tests Dr. Thom uses to test a baby’s eyes:
- Tests of pupil responses — These evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
- Fixate and follow — This determines if your baby’s eyes are able to fixate on and follow an object such as a light as it moves. Infants should be able to fixate on an item shortly after birth and follow an object by 3 or 4 months.
- Preferential looking — In lieu of a typical eye chart, this test uses cards that are blank on one side with stripes on the other. This attracts the infant’s vision and can show his or her vision capabilities.
How To Tell If Infants Need Glasses
Most babies don’t need glasses and develop normal vision in their first year of life as their brains and eyes develop. However, a baby can need glasses. Your child may need glasses if:
- They don’t follow objects properly — By the time your baby is four months old he or she should follow moving objects. If this isn’t happening it can be a sign he or she may not be seeing clearly.
- They rub their eyes frequently — While you may assume rubbing of the eyes means your child is getting sleepy, it can also be a sign of eye fatigue and a hint that your baby could need glasses.
- They hold objects too close to their face — If a baby holds toys especially close to his or her face, this can be a sign of having difficulty with vision.
- Crossed eyes — If your baby’s eyes seem crossed most of the time, eyeglasses may be needed to train the eyes to work together.
What Are Some Common Childhood Vision Issues?
Making sure that your child visits our office for regular vision exams may reveal that they are being affected by any of the following eye pediatric eye conditions:
- Strabismus—a misalignment of eyes, also called cross-eyes.
- Ptosis—a drooping of the upper eyelid for one or both eyes.
- Amblypia—poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood.
What Is Strabismus?
Strabismus is a common condition among children. It is a visual disorder where the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. Sometimes, only one eye is affected — turning inward (esotropia), outward (exotrpia) or downward, while the other eye is directed straight ahead. If not treated, can lead to amblyopia and eventually result in permanent visual loss in the affected eye.
What Is Ptosis?
Ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid. The lid may droop only slightly, or it may cover the pupil entirely. In some cases, ptosis can restrict and even block normal vision. It can be present in children as well as adults and may be treated with surgery. Ptosis can: affect one or both eyes, be inherited, be present at birth or occur later in life. Untreated it can lead to amblyopia.
What Is Amblyopia?
When one eye develops good vision while the other does not, the eye with poor vision is called amblyopic. Usually, only one eye is affected by amblyopia, but it is possible for both eyes to be “lazy.” The condition is common, affecting approximately two or three out of every 100 people. The best time to correct amblyopia is during infancy or early childhood. If amblyopia is not treated early in childhood, it persists throughout life and may lead to permanent vision loss.
Schedule An Appointment Today
To ensure that your child’s eyes stay healthy as they continue to develop, it is of great importance that you bring them for regular eye exams at Thom Eye & Laser Clinic. Contact our office at (701) 235-5200 to schedule their next appointment.