When a child is not yet talking (preverbal) or has not yet learned to read (preliterate) it is necessary to perform an INSTRUMENT-BASED VISION SCREENING. Instrument-based screening is not dependent on responses of the child as with visual acuity testing (naming the letter from the big “E” chart). In fact, it is quick and requires minimal cooperation from the child. Automated vision screening technology, such as a retinascope or an autorefractor, is used to determine if a child has a glasses prescription (a refractive error). Using this technology, the child does not need to know his or her letters or shapes and be able to verbally communicate those letters and shapes.
With patience, and a few tricks of the trade! Your child does not have to speak, or even be entirely cooperative to be examined. With eye drops and special equipment, the doctor can see into the eye and measure to see if your child needs glasses, even if they can’t read! The doctor will also check for any eye misalignment or other ocular problem.
Most children like to sit close to the TV because the picture is bigger the closer they are to the screen. Some of them may need glasses, but sitting close to the TV is not a definitive indication of eye problems.
A pediatric ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who has completed at least 5 to 6 years of post-graduate training after 4 years of medical school. A pediatric ophthalmologist is specially trained to evaluate and treat both medical and surgical eye conditions in children. Because they are MD’s, they are trained to see your child’s eye conditions in the context of any other health issues.
A vision screening is typically conducted by the pediatrician or primary care provider during a well child exam. A vision screening is an efficient, cost-effective method to detect vision problems at different ages. If a problem is detected, the patient will be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist for a comprehensive, dilated eye exam.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) recommend children have a vision screening when they are first born and again during infancy, preschool, and school years.
Depending on the drop used, your child’s pupils may be dilated up to a day or so. Near vision (for reading) might be blurred for several hours and there can be a bit of sensitivity to direct sunlight. Most children return to school on the day of the eye exam.
Usually, yes. Dilating the pupils with an eye drop allows the doctor to get a good look at the inside of the eye. In addition, the eye drop relaxes the “focusing muscles” that attach onto the lens of the eye. This lets them objectively measure refractive error (i.e., if glasses might be needed).
The first time your child visits our office a complete history is taken, followed by a thorough exam. This typically includes dilation of the eyes with eye drops and screening for refractive error (nearsightedness, astigmatism, etc.). Some children may take longer than others, depending on their age and cooperation, but a good rule of thumb is to allow 1 to 1 1/2 hours for your first visit
Maybe. Certain eye conditions are hereditary. If there is a strong family history of any eye condition, early examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist may be advisable.
The most common vision problem in children is typically refractive error. Refractive errors, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea), cause blurred vision and focusing problems but can typically be corrected with prescription glasses.
Regular vision screening typically detect vision problems. However, if the symptoms listed below are noticed in a child, he or she may be experiencing blurred vision:
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Squinting or tilting the head to see better
- Sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Complaints of headaches or tired eyes
- Avoiding activities requiring near vision such as reading or homework
- Avoiding activities requiring distance vision such as participating in sports or recreational activities
- Losing place when reading or needing a finger to follow the words
- Covering one eye to see better
Good vision and eye health are important to students’ ability to succeed in the classroom and be safe on the playground. Since so much of what a child learns in school is taught visually, having the proper vision at the start of a school year is fundamental to their success, both academically and socially.