Dr. Audrey Farnsworth answers some common questions about childrens’ eye health
From what age should a parent be bringing in their children for an eye exam?
Parents should bring their children in for their first exam between 6 months and 1 year.
Why is it important to bring a child in from such a young age?
It is important to determine if an infant is at risk for eye or vision disorders. Many eye problems arise from conditions that can be identified by an eye doctor in the first year of life.
What is the difference in terms of the examination process when you are checking the eyes of young children?
The examination process is mostly objective testing when an Optometrist performs an eye exam for young children. No responses are necessary from the child, as the optometrist uses mostly light reflexes and fun fixation targets to collect data.
Are there any signs that parents should be looking out for that would point them to making an appointment with their Optometrist?
Signs to look out for to bring a child in would be excessive tearing, constant eye turn, extreme sensitivity to light, appearance of a white pupil, red or encrusted eyelids.
Do you find that some parents can express hesitancy in bringing in young children? What causes hesitation?
Parents sometimes think that school screenings or pediatric health exams are enough to monitor eyes and vision. Parents are undereducated when it comes to the importance of a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor in Battle Creek, MI by the age of 1. InfantSEE, a public health awareness program was developed for this reason and includes an eye exam for infants 6 months to 1 year at no charge.
How does school play a role in this?
Schools often require a screening to be done before a child starts Kindergarten, but doesn't always require it be done by an eye care specialist.
Do you have issues with children that are shy or intimidated in the office, and how do you work with that?
Children are often shy if they have never had an eye exam before, but we try to make the exam fun and once we explain what we are going to do in the exam, and engage the child in the process, the shyness often disappears!
Can you recall any particular story of a child that came into your office, in which you were able to detect an issue early on and therefore make a difference in that child's eye health?
The most rewarding part of being an optometrist is seeing results of vision regained, especially in a case where a child may have had an eye turn, or significant difference in refractive error between they eyes. We treat the child, usually with glasses and patching therapy, and it is awesome to see their hard work and good compliance help them to regain vision that they could have lost if we didn't catch their eye problems sooner.
Any further comments specific to pediatric care that parents should be aware of?
Always try to schedule appointments for young children when they are well rested and not hungry to help set up the exam for success. Once you get to the exam, the optometrist will guide your child through the exam, and they will have a good time. It is just so important to have a comprehensive exam at an early age to prevent possible vision loss later in life!!