The Pediatric Eye Exam
I am often asked by parents, at what age should they have their baby's eyes examined.
They are often shocked by my answer.
I recommend that the first exam should be performed at 9 months of age. This is actually a little later than the American Optometry Association recommends. They say that the standard of care is for the first evaluation to be at 6 months old!
Most cases of Amblyopia (lazy eye) can be detected (and prevented!) even at that young age. There are objective findings that are easily detected by a Pediatric Optometrist that can be so important in the child's visual development.
Assuming everything turns out to be normal at this exam, the next recommended exams for a child with no specific risk factors (ie. Family history, illness, etc.) is at 3 years old and then entering first grade. Thereafter, yearly exams are recommended until age 18.
Why is the routine eye exam so important?
Obviously, having good vision is extremely important for your child’s learning development. However, its not the only factor. Each eye has six muscles surrounding it. These muscles must coordinate with each other in order to accurately guide the eye to the appropriate target. Then they must also coordinate with all the six muscles on the other eye in order to make sure that the two eyes are both pointing at the same spot.
If this massive communication effort doesn’t work properly, the two eyes might end up looking at two different targets. This can lead to extra exertion in order to realign the eyes (which can lead to headaches, strain and fatigue, or even double vision!).
The worst case is when the child’s brain decides that its not worth the effort to invest so much energy and makes the fateful choice to suppress the vision in one eye. This leads to Amblyopia – a situation in which the vision is not correctable even with glasses!
A proper eye examination for both children and adults MUST include muscle balance testing in order to assess the functional vision of the patient.
Every examination in my office includes an assessment of ocular muscle function.
If any of these problems are discovered, is recommended.
But....... your son’s teacher has recommended a special exam called a