In this article, we will be discussing a routine checkup that is important for all children – an eye exam. We’ll examine why regular eye exams are so important, and the health issues that these exams can help address.
Identifying the Problem
Why are kids’ eye exams so important? The answer is that kids’ eye exams help to identify any problems in your child’s vision, or with their general eye health.
Eye exams are especially important for children as kids may be unable to communicate issues they may be having with their eyes. Additionally, because children are so adaptive, they may not even notice that anything is wrong in the first place! Therefore, it is a good idea to have your child’s eyes routinely checked in order to identify problems before they get any more serious.
So, what is the process for having your kids’ eyes examined? In the next section, we’ll take you through the typical process. Knowing what to expect of a comprehensive eye exam will help you understand how an eye doctor will help your child’s vision.
Eye Exams for Children
As a parent, you likely know that it is important for children to receive regular eye exams, just as it’s important for them to receive regular medical check-ups, but you might not know exactly how to approach this process.
How Often Should my Child Get an Eye Exam?
The first question you might be asking is how often your child should get an eye exam. The answer varies slightly, but generally, a child should get their first eye exam around 6 months of age. Eye exams can be performed by a pediatrician, who will direct you to a specialist if there is a specific vision issue.
After your child’s first eye exam, they should receive a routine exam roughly once every two years. This would be, once at about age 3, and then again at about age 5. Then, they should continue to have an eye exam annually throughout their schooling. Of course, if any significant vision problem is spotted during a regular check-up, then this schedule might change.
What Happens During a Pediatric Eye Exam?
Parents often wonder what an eye exam consists of. It is important to know what to expect of a regular eye exam so that you can keep track of your child’s eye health.
As mentioned above, an eye screening can be performed by your child’s pediatrician.. This type of eye exam is meant only to check their visual acuity, and screen for a very basic health issues..
The exam involves a series of “tests” to evaluate the quality of a child’s vision. The doctor may also use lights to evaluate the health of the eye. If they see anything notable, your child might be referred to a specialist, who can perform further tests to diagnose the exact vision issue. These eye screenings are in no way a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam, performed by optometrists.
Seeing a Specialist
If your child fails a screening, or hasn’t been seen for over a year, then they will likely be referred to one of 2 types of specialists :
Optometrist: Optometrists are able to perform more extensive tests on a child’s vision and eye health. They can diagnose the issue, and also prescribe corrective treatment (often in the form of glasses). An optometrist may have a child look through a series of lenses, or may use lights to shine into the interior of the eye. However, the specifics of the exam depend on the issues being addressed . The optometrist will be able to identify the issue and point towards the next steps to correct or aid the vision issue.
If your child requires corrective lenses, optometrists can fill prescriptions for corrective eyewear – including sizing, fitting, and installing the proper lenses. Your child will also have an opportunity to pick out the glasses that they like best!
Ophthalmologists: Alternatively, your child may be referred to an ophthalmologist. These doctors can also diagnose vision issues and prescribe corrective lenses, but they typically specialize in more serious health issues, and can perform surgery.
Types of Problems
Now that you’re a bit more familiar with the process, let’s take a look at the various issues which may be identified and eventually corrected by an eye exam. The most common children’s eye issues can be separated into 3 categories. Keep in mind that this is just a general guide, and you’ll have to consult a professional eye doctor to properly diagnose the issue.
Myopia (nearsightedness) and Hyperopia (farsightedness): Myopia and hyperopia are two very common vision problems for children. They are caused by refractive errors in the eye which cause difficulty in seeing objects either close-up or far away. Sometimes, a child will have both issues. A medical professional can diagnose the vision problem and prescribe corrective lenses to fix the issue.
Astigmatism: Astigmatism is caused when the actual surface of a child’s eye is oddly shaped. While most eyes are round, astigmatism occurs when an eye is an oval shape. The result is that the child’s vision will be blurred for far and near distances. Corrective lenses can account for the difference in shape, and make adjustments to fix the vision issues.
Anisometropia: Anisometropia is when a child requires a different prescription in each eye. Glasses can account for this difference with a different lens on each side. This condition is often caused as a result of the eyes being a slightly different shape from one another. This causes difficulties focusing and blurring of sight.
How Will It Help?
Now that you understand the basics of the eye exam process, as well as how a professional may be able to diagnose and address the issues with your child’s eyes, let’s take a look at all the ways your child will benefit from routine eye exams
Simply put, your child will have an easier life if their vision is corrected properly. Fixing a child’s vision is important to ensure that they can focus, learn, and don’t have to exert themselves just to see.
As a parent, it is important that you support them throughout this process. Assure them that glasses are totally normal, and remind them of the benefits of their new pair of corrective lenses. Children are adaptive, and will respond to the process with a positive attitude if you approach things with a positive attitude as well!