Your Child's Eyes -" The Importance of Eye Examinations In Children
Eye problems are surprisingly common in children. One out of every ten healthy babies will develop an eye problem by his/her first birthday. Nearly 40 percent of children will develop the need for eyeglasses by the time they start school. Another 10 to 20 percent will be diagnosed with a learning disability that may be vision-related.
What Is “Lazy Eye”?
“Lazy eye,” or amblyopia, is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood. Amblyopia affects about three out of every 100 people. This condition can run in families.
The best time to correct amblyopia is during infancy or early childhood, especially during the first nine years of life. It is recommended that children have their eyes and vision monitored by their primary care physician at their well-child visits. It is detected by finding a difference in vision between the two eyes or poor vision in both eyes.
How Do I Know If My Child Needs an Eye Exam?
For infants and toddlers, if you see anything unusual or different about your childs eyes, even if it occurs briefly, you should report what you observed to your childs pediatrician. Reasons your infant or toddler should see a pediatric ophthalmologist include crossed eyes and other eye alignment problems, constant tearing and discharge, a droopy or sleepy eye, a white spot on the eye, a family history of amblyopia or other eye problems, if your child does not seem to see very well, and if your child was born very premature or had a low birth weight.
For school-age children, if your child has any difficulty with the state-mandated school vision screenings or the pediatricians vision tests, you should have your child examined by an ophthalmologist. If you or your childs teacher has any concerns with your childs vision and/or school performance, you should consider a comprehensive eye exam for your child.
Does your child
Squint to see?
Tilt or turn his/her head to see?
Close one eye to see?
Sit close to the TV?
Hold books close to his/her face?
Have trouble seeing the board at school?
Struggle at school?
Have an eye that turns in?
Have an eye that turns out?
Constantly rub his/her eyes?
Have excessive tearing from one or both eyes?
Have any family history of eye problems?
Have a droopy eyelid?
Have a teacher who has noticed any vision problems or moved your child closer to the front of the classroom?
What Is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist?
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have completed medical school, one year of postgraduate medicine or surgery (internship), and at least three years of additional residency training in the medical and surgical treatment of eye problems. They are licensed to practice medicine and surgery, diagnose and treat all eye diseases, prescribe medications, prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses. Most dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses as well. Pediatric ophthalmologists are a specialized group of ophthalmologists who have completed additional training dedicated to treating special eye problems of children.
The pediatric ophthalmologist will conduct a complete eye examination and perform a number of tests to check the health and function of your childs eyes. Your childs comprehensive eye examination will include a physical examination of the eyes, an assessment of visual acuity using eye chart tests, pictures, or letters to test the childs ability to see form and detail of objects, an assessment for any refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism), and a careful evaluation of eye muscle function.
The American Academy of Pediatrics specifically recommends that children with eye problems be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist. Vision problems in children can be serious, but if detected and treated early, the childs good vision can be protected.