We love it when parents bring their young children in for their annual eye examinations. It is vitally important to check on kids so that proper visual development can be ensured and they can live to their utmost potential.
Sometimes however, our eye doctor will catch a problem, and this article will explain how we might go about fixing certain visual issues in kids.
Your Child’s Eye Examination
The complexity of children’s eye examinations scales with how old the kids are, how mature they are, and therefore how much they can realistically do. In infants, for example, our optometrist will check for basic visual function, normal eye movements, constant or intermittent eye turns, rough prescription numbers, and eye health.
Parents will often notice an eye turn and bring the child in for this reason so that something can be done about it. However, deeper eye health issues inside the eyes or high prescriptions are usually invisible to the parents and not noticed, especially in the very young.
Possible eye conditions or diseases are obviously worrisome. However, eye turns and high prescriptions can also be very concerning because they can cause amblyopia, commonly called lazy eye.
Amblyopia is when the brain fails to develop proper visual connections to an eye due to poor image input from that eye. This can lead to permanently reduced vision, even when the offending agent is eventually corrected, if this fix is not carried out before the critical period of this visual development ends around the age of seven years.
How a Child’s Eye Exam is Different Than an Adults
If anything suspicious is noted on a regular examination, our eye doctor will usually bring the child back for what is called a cycloplegic examination.
At this visit, drops will be put in the child’s eyes to relax their focusing (accommodating) muscle system and to make their pupils large and unreactive to light for easier examination.
With the drops in, the true glasses prescription, eye turn magnitude, and condition of the back of the eyes can be accurately found.
A cycloplegic examination is often carried out anytime our optometrist feels a child needs a prescription, because the eye focusing system in kids is very powerful and can greatly affect prescription results.
The drops do sting going in and kids often do not like them. In addition, the child may have larger than normal pupils, light sensitivity, trouble seeing up close, and mild irritability for up to 24 hours after drop installation.
Glasses May Help Your Child’s Vision
Interestingly, a pair of glasses can do a huge amount of good in certain kids. A child with a high farsighted prescription and an eye that turns in as a result, for example, is said to have an accommodative esotropia.
Because of the prescription and the eye turn, this child would become amblyopic in the affected eye without some sort of intervention. The glasses fix the vision and also allow the eyes to relax, making the eye drift back outward to its normal position.
Glasses can be prescribed in very young kids, including infants and toddlers to neutralize eye turns or very high prescriptions. They are also often used in older children to help their eyes focus for reading and homework while their vision develops, and glasses for this purpose will often be grown out of as the eyes change.