How Prairie Eye Care Conducts Child-Friendly Eye Examinations
Does your child receive regular eye examinations? Is it really necessary? Early eye exams are designed to catch any vision problems or eye issues as early as possible. A child's eyes develop rapidly during the first few years of life, and problems are much easier to treat when caught early. Taking your little one to an eye doctor might make you nervous. Surely, a stranger poking around your child's eyes will be uncomfortable? (Don't worry - there will be no poking!)
The fact is, we love working with kids! The expert staff at Prairie Eye Care conducts child-friendly eye examinations to put your little one at ease. Exactly what to expect at each appointment will depend on your child's age.
Your baby should see an eye doctor for the first time before age two. If you have any concerns or a family history of eye issues, the doctors at Prairie Eye Care will see infants as young as six months old. Vision problems can delay a baby's development. When scheduling an eye exam for your infant or young toddler, avoid cranky times such as naptime or mealtime. Your little one will have the best experience if alert and awake. At this age, your child can not speak for themselves, so please come with any questions or concerns you may have. Your optometrist will assess your baby's reaction to light and see how well they can track a moving object or toy in front of their face. Babies can be tested for eye-focusing skills, refractive errors (such as near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism), and depth perception by six months. Your optometrist may dilate your baby's pupils using eye drops. The doctor may also use an instrument called an ophthalmoscope, a lighted tool with a magnifying glass, to look at the entire eye and ensure the visual system is developing as it should.
Some of the most common eye issues in younger children are refractive errors, strabismus (misaligned or crossed eyes), and amblyopia (lazy eye). A preschool-aged child will be checked for these issues along with general vision, eye-muscles testing, and focusing problems. This is done with child-friendly tests like eye charts, pictures, letters, toys, and games. (Your child might be begging to return to the eye doctor!) Your child might be given special glasses with a hole on one side to check vision in each eye. (Older children can use a paddle to cover each eye.) Drops might dilate the pupils, allowing the optometrist to better look at the retina, optic nerves, and blood vessels.
Once you have a school-aged child, they might receive a brief vision screening at school. A common misconception is that this is a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam. Only a skilled eye doctor with special knowledge and equipment can look into and around the eye for developing issues. Kids at this age might enjoy coming to the eye doctor. Every eye test is like a game! Remember, a child's eye health continues to develop and change well into the school years. Good vision has a huge effect on a child's success in school. Regular eye exams are the best way to ensure your child's eyes continue to develop properly.