Eighty percent of what a child learns is through vision. Good vision is important for child development, safety, and education. It is imperative for children to have comprehensive eye exams, as they may not recognize the symptoms of poor vision or be able to communicate them properly. Many conditions, if not treated at a young age, can result in permanent vision loss.
Good vision is important for child development, safety and education. VisionFirst Eye Center performs routine eye exams for children of all ages.
Many issues related to vision are difficult to detect, especially in the case of infants. The InfantSEE program is a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months at no cost. The basic things your Optometrist will look for include: nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, eye movement ability, and eye health problems. As with all vision issues, the earlier you detect them the better.
Preparing your child for an eye exam
After the appointment for your child is made, the real work begins. Visiting any doctor’s office can be a daunting task for a toddler. To help ease your mind as well as your child’s nerves, prepare yourself and your little one with a few easy steps.
Call our office and ask if you and your child could tour the office before the exam. This is a wonderful opportunity for your child to see the equipment, sit in the “big” chair and meet the doctor without the pressure of an exam.
Play games with your child that initiate a conversation about going to the optometrist, such as I Spy. Be honest with your little one about the exam when he or she asks questions.
Relax! If your child senses your anxiety during the exam, he or she will, in turn, be nervous.
Lastly, educate yourself about the appointment. If you are unsure about what tests will be run on your little one, call and ask our office. Have a list of questions ready for the optometrist. It is easy to get overwhelmed with so much information, so having a list of questions ready and waiting will help organize you during the exam.
When should my child have an eye exam?
- Birth to 24 Months: between 6 to 12 months of age or as recommended
- 2 to 5 years: At 3 years of age or as recommended
- 6 to 18 years: Annually or as recommended
- What is myopia? Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a common refractive error of the eye. Most myopia occurs when the eye is too long. When you are nearsighted, your distance vision is blurry but close objects may be clear.
- Is my child a candidate for myopia control contacts? Your child may be a candidate if: • they are willing to insert and remove contacts (usually age 7 or older), taking them out every night and cleaning them • they are nearsighted and have signs of progression or strong family history of nearsightedness • they do not have too much astigmatism
- How do myopia control contacts work? The lenses are designed with alternating zones to correct central distance refractive error and provide a peripheral myopic treatment zone. It is currently thought that the defocus of the peripheral retina may be causing the progression of nearsightedness. Current studies have shown these lenses may slow the progression by up to 50%.**
- What are the risks with myopia control contacts? The primary risks are those of any other soft contact lens, infection, irritation, and corneal ulcers. It is very important that your child never sleep or swim in the lenses and clean them properly every night.
- How do the prescription eye drops work? Studies show that a very low dose of atropine (.01%) may slow the progression of nearsightedness by up to fifty percent.*** This very diluted eye drop must be compounded but has a lower risk of side effects such as dilation of the eyes.
- Are there alternative treatments? Alternative treatments include orthokeratology contacts. These are special contacts that you sleep in at night and take out in the morning. They work well for low levels of nearsightedness without much astigmatism. Dr. Doss does not fit these lenses but can help you find a provider if you are a good candidate.
Call 205-949-2020 to schedule an eye exam or a contact lens consultation with Dr. Rebecca Doss.
*Anstice NS, Phillips JR. Effect of dual-focus contact lens wear on axial myopia progression in children. Ophthalmology. 2011 Jun; 118(6):1152-61. **Walline JJ, Jones LA, Sinott L, et al. A randomized trial of the effect of soft contact lenses on myopia progression in children. Invest Ophthamol Vis Sci. 2008 Nov;(11):4702-6 ***Chia A, Qing-Shu L, Tam, D. Five-year clinical trial on atropine for the treatment of myopia 2. Ophthalmology. 2016; ul; 123:391-9