Every parent hopes his or her children grow up happy and healthy. For this reason, it is so important kids have comprehensive eye exams. Kids typically have their distance vision checked by the pediatrician and at school vision screenings. Testing distance vision is important and children with large amounts of myopia (nearsightedness) will be found, but this is only a small fragment of your child’s developmental vision. Hyperopia (farsightedness) and high amounts of astigmatism are not always detected by this test alone, which may present problems later on. These screenings check vision, but fail to check the external and internal health of your child’s eyes.
Comprehensive Pediatric Eye Exams Evaluate:
- stereopsis (depth perception/ability to see 3D)
- near vision
- eye alignment and eye coordination (paramount for reading)
- pupil reactivity (neurological function)
- eye pressure (congenital glaucoma and eye health)
- refractive error (glasses or contacts)
- retinal photography (for yearly comparisons)
- developmental milestones (optimum for eye health prognosis)
- ocular comfort (allergies, dryness, etc.)
- internal eye health to make sure all structures are developing properly
Parents have many great questions surrounding their children’s eye health.
My children are 2 and 4 and they don’t know their letters. How can you do an exam?
Most of the tests are performed objectively. Lang Family Eye Care carries the newest charts that play movies to keep the child’s attention. We also utilize special shapes and games to make the exam interactive as well as fun.
Won’t my child tell me if they can’t see?
The vast majority of the time the answer is “no.” Our visual perception is based on previous knowledge of knowing what “clear” looks like. If your child has never known what clear and comfortable vision is, it is impossible for them to recognize there is a problem. If there ever is a change it is often so gradual it is not realized until it has become a much bigger problem recognized by squinting or compensating working distances in class.
My child passed their school screening, so do they still need an eye exam?
Yes. There are so many other components of vision that are being skipped as mentioned above. We have seen many parents come in when their son or daughter who was already a teenager with problems showing up that could have been fixed or prevented years before. Many don’t show up until schoolwork becomes more rigorous or prints become finer. The screenings will catch some students, but it is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam. Your eyes contribute, for most children, between 65%-75% of your children’s ability to learn. This is why comprehensive eye exams are essential.
My eyes are 20/20, so will my child have great vision too?
We most certainly hope so, but that doesn’t mean that your child or you should not be having yearly exams. Comprehensive eye exams have vision as a mere component of the evaluation. Everyone needs to make sure their eyes are free from eye disease like glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts, malignancies, and many more that can affect anyone at any age. The majority of eye diseases do not cause pain and early detection is key in preserving sight for your lifetime. Comprehensive eye exams allow the doctor to view arteries, veins, and nervous tissue. Many underlying systemic conditions can be addressed or monitored during these exams. Most people see their dentist twice a year to ensure their teeth are healthy, which is very important. It would be very hard to argue against not getting your eyes (quite possibly your most valuable sense) evaluated yearly.
Has your child said that the 3D movie or 3D TV looked strange, uncomfortable, uneasy, or different?
3D is now mainstream and being shown almost at the same rate as regular motion pictures. To perceive 3D, stereopsis (depth perception) is required. This can only happen if eye alignment, eye coordination, eye development, and equally sharp vision in both eyes is present. Even with all of these systems functioning properly, other issues may hinder 3D vision.
What if I notice my child’s eye turns in or out occasionally?
Regardless of frequency or magnitude, all deviations should be evaluated through a comprehensive exam to prevent any potential developmental problems and determine if treatment is necessary.
What if I notice my child’s pupil is white or looks different in a photo?
They should be evaluated immediately for there can be more serious vision or life threatening conditions present. Children should have a comprehensive eye exam in the first year of life to ensure that their visual developmental milestones are being met. Eye health exams should be performed even sooner if prematurity, supplemental oxygen, or other congenital health issues are present.
My child is very active and involved with sports. Are there any options other than conventional glasses?
Yes. Miraflex Frames are a wonderful option. These are rubberized frames that are extremely durable, safe, and stylish for active children. Miraflex are custom fit in our office with different colors and sizes with matching straps available. Contact lenses are also a good option, but it depends on the parent’s level of comfort and the responsibility shown by their child. There is no specific age required, but the ability to properly care for the contact lenses must be demonstrated.
There are so many excellent questions. Please call with any questions you may have!
If you would like more information on pediatric, children’s, or adult eye health, or sports and vision testing call us, or visit these helpful web pages:
American Optometric Association – Infant Eye Health
American Optometric Association – Children’s Eye Health
American Optometric Association – Adult Eye Health
American Optometric Association – Sports and Vision Testing