End of summer can be bittersweet for children.  It marks an end to the carefree days of no school and long vacations.  However, many children can't wait to get back to school to see their friends, or start playing team sports again.  Back to school checklists usually include school supplies.  But one thing that shouldn't be left off the list is an eye exam.  Vision plays an important role in learning.  In fact 80 percent of what a child learns is presented to them visually.  One in four children has undetected vision problems, which can hinder their education.  Even though children get vision screenings in school or by their pediatricians, these screenings should not take the place of an eye exam performed by an eye doctor since certain vision problems can be missed during a screening.

Before heading off to the eye exam, make sure you have some information on the child's biological medical and ocular family history.  You should let the optometrist know if there is any history of glaucoma, macular degeneration, or any other genetic ocular diseases in the family.  The optometrist will also want to know what you have noticed about your child's behavior when it comes to his vision.  Be prepared to answer some questions, such as: 
  • "Does you child blink or rub his eyes frequently?"
  • "Does your child have difficulty maintaining eye contact?"
  • "Does your child have trouble tracking?" 

During an eye exam an optometrist checks for a number of things.  First, the patient's vision is checked.  This determines if glasses are necessary.  Next, the optometrist checks to make sure the eye muscles are working well together and there are no signs of strabismus or an eye turn, which can lead to a 'lazy eye'.  She also checks stereopsis, color vision, eye tracking, and ocular health.  The optometrist may dilate your child's eyes to get a more accurate prescription and to get a better view of the retina. 

It is important for the optometrist to detect any conditions, such as an eye turn or refractive error where corrective lenses will be necessary, early on so that the patient's eyes can develop normally.  The longer one of these findings is left undiagnosed and untreated, the lower the chances of the eyes developing equally and there is a chance for the child to develop amblyopia or 'lazy eye.'

Every child should have their first eye exam 6-12 months.  If everything is found to be normal at that visit, they can be seen again at the age of 2 and then again at the age of 4.  Their next eye exam should be at the age of 6 and then annually after that.  Eye exams are very important since not only is your child's vision checked, but also their ocular health is examined as well.  Make sure you start off the school year right this year and have your child's eyes examined.  Call our office today or schedule online.