Pediatric eye exams include many of the same tests and evaluations as an adult eye exam, but with a particular emphasis on the vision issues and other eye problems that are most common in childhood. Exams also use special techniques to help children provide proper subjective information during exams so eye issues can be identified more quickly. Generally speaking, pediatric eye exams include assessments of visual acuity (how clearly your child sees objects at different distances), eye tracking ability (how well your child tracks objects as they move across the field of vision), depth perception, peripheral vision, and color vision. The structure of the eye will also be evaluated, and the optic nerve and retina will be assessed, usually using eye drops to dilate the pupil. If a problem with near vision or far vision is detected, the exam will also determine if lenses are needed to correct the problem. Children will also be evaluated to issues more likely to develop or become apparent in childhood like amblyopia or strabismus.
Ideally, children will have an initial eye exam by about six months of age to look for any early signs of an eye or vision-related issues. These exams are very brief and center on an evaluation of the infant's ability to track objects, as well as other simple visual tasks. Another assessment should be performed by the time the child is three years of age, and again before first grade so vision issues that might interfere with learning can be addressed. After that, children should have routine eye exams every year or two, according to the American Optometric Association. Children with vision issues or a family history of eye diseases may need to be seen and evaluated more frequently.
Yes. School eye exams, while helpful in identifying some issues, are no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam with an eye care professional.
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