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Pediatric Eye Exams

According to experts, 80% of learning is visual, which means that if your child is having difficulty seeing clearly, his or her learning can be affected. This also goes for infants who develop and learn about the world around them through their sense of sight. To ensure that your children have the visual resources they need to grow and develop normally, their eyes and vision should be checked by an eye doctor at certain stages of their development.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA) children should have their eyes examined by an eye doctor at 6 months, 3 years, at the start of school, and then at least every 2 years following. If there are any signs that there may be a vision problem or if the child has certain risk factors (such as developmental delays, premature birth, crossed or lazy eyes, family history or previous injuries) more frequent exams are recommended. A child that wears eyeglasses or contact lenses should have his or her eyes examined yearly. Children’s eyes can change rapidly as they grow.

Eye Exams in Infants: Birth – 24 Months

A baby’s visual system develops gradually over the first few months of life. They have to learn to focus and move their eyes, and use them together as a team. The brain also needs to learn how to process the visual information from the eyes to understand and interact with the world. With the development of eyesight, comes also the foundation for motor development such as crawling, walking and hand-eye coordination.

You can ensure that your baby is reaching milestones by keeping an eye on what is happening with your infant’s development and by ensuring that you schedule a comprehensive infant eye exam at 6 months. At this exam, the eye doctor will check that the child is seeing properly and developing on track and look for conditions that could impair eye health or vision (such as strabismus(misalignment or crossing of the eyes), farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism).

Since there is a higher risk of eye and vision problems if your infant was born premature or is showing signs of developmental delay, your eye doctor may require more frequent visits to keep watch on his or her progress.

Eye Exams in Preschool Children: 2-5

The toddler and preschool age is a period where children experience drastic growth in intellectual and motor skills. During this time they will develop the fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and perceptual abilities that will prepare them to read and write, play sports and participate in creative activities such as drawing, sculpting or building. This is all dependent upon good vision and visual processes.

This is the age when parents should be on the lookout for signs of lazy eye (amblyopia) – when one eye doesn’t see clearly, or crossed eyes (strabismus) – when one or both eyes turns inward or outward. The earlier these conditions are treated, the higher the success rate.

Parents should also be aware of any developmental delays having to do with object, number or letter recognition, color recognition or coordination, as the root of such problems can often be visual. If you notice your child squinting, rubbing his eyes frequently, sitting very close to the tv or reading material, or generally avoiding activities such as puzzles or coloring, it is worth a trip to the eye doctor.

Eye Exams in School-Aged Children: Ages 6-18

Undetected or uncorrected vision problems can cause children and teens to suffer academically, socially, athletically and personally. If your child is having trouble in school or afterschool activities there could be an underlying vision problem. Proper learning, motor development, reading, and many other skills are dependent upon not only good vision, but also the ability of your eyes to work together. Children that have problems with focusing, reading, teaming their eyes or hand-eye coordination will often experience frustration, and may exhibit behavioral problems as well. Often they don’t know that the vision they are experiencing is abnormal, so they aren’t able to express that they need help.

In addition to the symptoms written above, signs of vision problems in older children include:

  • Short attention span
  • Headaches
  • Frequent blinking
  • Avoiding reading
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • Losing their place often while reading
  • Double vision
  • Poor reading comprehension

The Eye Exam

In addition to basic visual acuity (distance and near vision) an eye exam may assess the following visual skills that are required for learning and mobility:

  • Binocular vision: how the eyes work together as a team
  • Focusing
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Color Vision
  • Hand-eye Coordination
  • Tracking

The doctor will also examine the area around the eye and inside the eye to check for any eye diseases or health conditions. You should tell the doctor any relevant personal history of your child such as a premature birth, developmental delays, family history of eye problems, eye injuries or medications the child is taking. This would also be the time to address any concerns or issues your child has that might indicate a vision problem.

If the eye doctor does determine that your child has a vision problem, they may discuss a number of therapeutic options such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, an eye patch, vision therapy or Ortho-k, depending on the condition and the doctor’s specialty. Since some conditions are much easier to treat when they are caught early while the eyes are still developing, it is important to diagnose any eye and vision issues as early as possible.

Following the guidelines for children’s eye exams and staying alert to any signs of vision problems can help your child to reach his or her potential.

COVID-19 News

 

 

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We are following recommendations from our governing body to postpone routine vision care, and are only opening the office to emergency patients at this time. Patients can reach the office by calling 856-832-4950 or emailing us at vec@sjvillageeyecare.com. We will be returning phone calls and emails in a timely manner.

In the meantime, here are some recommendations to stay healthy while we work through this:

Urgent/Emergency Eye Care:

⁃ Avoid urgent care and the hospitals for eye problems to keep the hospitals more available for COVID-19 care. Call or email our office for emergency eye care needs.

Vision Strain Awareness:

⁃ Children and adults alike are about to spend even more time than usual on their tablets, phones and computers and the risk of eye strain will consequently be much higher. To reduce the risk of eye strain, try to follow the “Rule of Twenty”; when performing prolonged near activities, do the following:

- Maintain a working distance of at least 20 inches (the further you hold things from your face the less focusing effort is required).

- Take a vision break every 20 minutes to look far away (at least 20 feet) for at least 20 seconds.

- For children, the break should be longer.

Social Distancing:

⁃ Help everyone stay safe by social distancing and eliminating unnecessary social interactions. This will make a huge difference in delaying the load on our hospital system so everyone has the best chance of surviving when they become infected with COVID-19

Contact Lens Care:

⁃ Remove your contact lenses nightly. Even if you've been told they are safe to sleep in and you've been doing it with no problems, this is not the time to get an eye infection.

⁃ When you remove your lenses be sure to clean them with designated contact lens cleaning solution, using fresh solution nightly. DO NOT USE WATER!

⁃ Keep your contact lens case clean! If you are having trouble finding cases or contact lens solution to purchase, we have some available at no charge.

⁃ Throw away your lenses on time. Acuvue Oasys lenses are designed to be thrown away every 2 weeks, while other brands such as Air Optix, Biofinity and are monthly disposable lenses. Daily disposable lenses are single use lenses and should be thrown away after every use. If you aren’t sure what your disposal schedule is supposed to be, contact us via email (vec@sjvillageeyecare.com) and we will be happy to help you.

⁃ If you are at risk of running out of contact lenses, our office can order you more and have them shipped directly to your home.

Emergency Glasses:

⁃ If you have the misfortune of breaking your glasses, contact us and we will do our best to get you an emergency pair as soon as possible.

Our office number is (856-832-4950) and our direct email address is vec@sjvillageeyecare.com. We check our messages and email regularly and will respond as soon as possible.

Wishing the best for you and your families and looking forward to working together during this crisis and into the future!