What to Expect at My Child’s First Eye Exam
American Optometric Association (AOA), states “infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age.” Did you know that Bissell Eye Care provides eye examinations for free to children as young as 6 months up to one year old? As children enter preschool around 3 years of age they should be rechecked and then again right before kindergarten. Experts say 5 -10 % of preschoolers and 25 % of school-aged children have vision problems.
During a child’s eye exam, we will perform three assessments, including a vision test, pupil test, and eye movement test. You’ll be asked about your family’s medical history, your child’s medical history, developmental observations and any vision problems that you might be observing with your child.
We encourage you to stay with your child through the entire examination. Infants and small children sit on a parent’s lap during the exam. Older children are encouraged to sit in the exam chair by themselves.
Eye drops are used to dilate the pupils, which gives the optometrists a better view of the structures inside the eye, such as the retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels. The drops take about 30 to 45 minutes to become fully effective.
The Bissell Eye Care optometrists will carefully observe each eye as your child follows lights or toys. This gives a very good estimate of a child’s visual function. Children do not need to be able to talk or read to get an accurate eyeglass prescription. Children who talk but cannot read or count may be asked to identify pictures of common objects.
Once the dilation drops kick in, the doctor will use a retinoscope, a handheld polarized light, and lenses to read each of the eye’s red reflex. This allows the doctor to get an accurate eyeglasses prescription without feedback from the patient, allowing nonverbal or young children to get glasses.
These same eye drops also cause a temporary weakness of the eyes’ focusing muscles. This allows us to determine if your child has a focusing or refractive error that requires glasses. Refractive errors include:
- Nearsightedness (myopia)
- Farsightedness (hyperopia)
- Distorted vision (astigmatism)
You may notice many preschools are starting to advertise registration for the 2020-2021 school year. Young children depend on their vision to learn tasks that will prepare them for school. During this time in their lives, they are developing the visually-guided eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills and visual perceptual abilities necessary to learn to read and write.
Early identification of a child’s vision problem is crucial because, if left untreated, some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss. The AOA estimates one in four school-aged kids have undetected vision problems that critically impact their visual perceptual skills -better known – as the 3 R’s:
- RECOGNITION — knowing the difference between letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’
- COMPREHENSION — ‘picturing’ what’s happening in a story they’re reading
- RETENTION – remembering and recalling details about what they’ve just read
Here are some tips for eye exams for young children:
Schedule the appointment during a time when your child is alert and happy taking into account napping and eating times.
A case history will be conducted to determine birth history, birth weight, medical issues, and any allergies
Be sure to note any delayed motor development, failure to maintain eye contact, poor eye tracking, frequent eye rubbing or blinking.
Prepare your child for success as they enter preschool and beyond. To schedule your child’s eye exam, give our offices a call at 724-443-6767 or 724-226-0444.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.