Importance of Eye Exams during Childhood

When was the last time you took your child for an eye exam? If your answer is “it’s been less than 6 months”, you can ignore this and not read any further. However, if it’s been longer than that, then it is important you read this.

For parents, their child’s health is a priority. Thus, it is important that when you take your child to his doctor, get his eyes be evaluated at all doctor’s visits, even during infancy. An easy way to avoid vision related problems is by keeping vision screenings routine.

Routine visits help in discovering problems at an early stage and stand a better chance of being treated. Untreated abnormalities can lead to worse problems such as vision loss.

Vision problems your child’s Pediatrician evaluate for, are:

  • Strabismus is a condition where eyes are misaligned a.k.a squint. In United States, close to 12 million people have been diagnosed with Strabismus and most of them are children. The different types of Strabismus come from the direction of the eye’s misalignment. It can be upward {hypertropia}, downward {hyotropia}, inward {esotropia} or outward {exotropia}.
    There is also Phoria Strabismus, a related condition in which misalignment is not obvious, but unmasked by covering either one of the eyes when the child is tired or sick.
  • Amblyopia, commonly known as “Lazy Eye” is a condition where child has reduced vision in one eye. It occurs during early years of childhood and impacts vision of one eye.
  • Refracted Errors is a condition in wherein shape of the eye averts the light to focus openly onto the retina. Myopia (a.k.a Nearsightedness) and Hypermetropia (a.k.a Farsightedness) are most common refractive errors.

When your child is under the age of 3, their doctor will usually check for Refracted Errors, Astigmatism (another eye problem), Amblyopia, Eye Movement Ability, Proper Eye Alignment (Strabismus), and the Eye’s Reaction to Changes in light and darkness. Once a child turns 3, he can and should have a formal eye test done.

Various types of Eye Tests

Corneal Light Reflex – It is a test to check for misalignment in eyes. A light is directed on the bridge of the child’s nose, allowing the examiner to check that light reflexes proportionately and shines at the similar spot on both eyes. If the reflex not similar or in center, it indicates a misalignment i.e Strabismus.
This test helps in differentiating between Pseudostrabismus, a condition in which the eyes seem misaligned but does not require treatment, and real Strabismus.

Unilateral Cover Test – This test helps an examiner to check whether an infant or child has a reduced vision. The unilateral test helps in detecting Strabismus in older children.

Example of Unilateral Cover Test conducted on a child below 3 years.

A Pediatrician will use an object and have child follow it with both eyes. Next, he will cover one eye of the child and have them keep following the object. If the child begins to feel irritated or stops following, this may indicate that un-covered eye has reduced visio

If you come across any indications, like;

i) Child’s eyes are crossing and there is a misalignment visible, or
ii) If they just are having trouble seeing
iii) Child complains of frequent headaches or Double/Blurred Vision

These are the signs that your child has an eye problem and you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

For more information about Child Vision Screenings and Eye Examinations, visit your local Devlyn Optical Store.