The Importance of Eye Exams in Children
Routine eye exams are important in detecting early vision problems in children. The visual system requires equal contribution from both eyes for normal development. Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”, occurs when the brain is not receiving input from both eyes equally. Amblyopia is one among many other eye conditions that can be diagnosed during a routine exam including:
- Strabismus (misaligned eyes)
If amblyopia is detected early, treatment is helpful to preserve vision and prevent vision loss.
Recommendations for Vision Screening in Children
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommends timely screening in children for the detection of eye problems:
|AGE (YEARS)||FREQUENCY OF EVALUATION|
|Birth to 3 years||At all well-child visits|
|3 years and older||Annually through 5 years then at 10,12,15, and 18 years|
What To Expect During A Pediatric Eye Exam
A complete eye exam will typically last about 1-2 hours from the time you enter the exam room. Your child’s entire medical, ocular, family, and social history will be reviewed as well as any current medications. The examination will start with a measurement of your child’s vision. The pupils, eye muscles, side vision, color vision and stereoacuity will also be tested.
Your child will then be given eye drops that will dilate their pupils. These drops take about 30 minutes to work. They may make the eyes light sensitive and difficult to focus, especially up close, for several hours.
The doctor will then shine several lights into your child’s eyes. These instruments allow for a thorough examination of the various parts that make up both the outside and inside the eye, as well as check for any problems that may require prescription glasses.
Additional testing, including specialized imaging, may also be required to further evaluate any abnormal findings on the exam. The results will then be reviewed at the completion of the visit.
Follow-up visits can vary greatly depending the findings of the exam. A child with a normal exam may be seen annually. Conditions, such as amblyopia, may require more frequent follow-up. Your doctor will discuss the plan for follow-up care at the end of the visit.