Regular eye examinations are important for individuals of all ages but for children they play a critical role in ensuring they are ready for school. A pediatric optometrist specializes in detecting and treating vision problems in children under age 18.
Most public schools offer vision screening conducted by a school nurse. This involves basic screening to determine how well a child is able to read an eye chart from a distance of 20 feet. In some cases, children just beginning kindergarten may be tested for color blindness but that is as far as it goes.
What does a pediatric optometrist find during an eye exam?
What Are The Benefits Of Using An Optometrist?
Parents who want to make sure a child’s vision is healthy must also arrange for periodic comprehensive eye examinations by a qualified pediatric optometrist. This is necessary because school vision screenings are limited and unable to detect many different vision problems.
A school exam, for example, checks vision at a distance but does not test near vision. Children with farsightedness have trouble seeing close objects clearly meaning they will find it difficult to read.
Another common problem that can go undetected in a school vision screening is binocular vision dysfunction. This is a condition where the line of sight from one eye does not properly align with the other eye. This puts undue strain on the eye muscles as they attempt to correct the alignment. Individuals with this problem can experience disorientation, trouble reading, headaches and dizziness. Eye alignment and the ability to maintain focus play important roles in reading comprehension.
Amblyopia, known more commonly as lazy eye, is a condition where one eye wanders instead of fusing with the other eye. When left untreated, the brain compensates by ignoring all input provided by the wandering eye. This can become serious and eventually lead to vision loss.
A pediatric optometrist has the knowledge, skills and tools to test for all types of vision problems. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment of many eye conditions, which is what makes regular eye appointments so important for children of all ages.
Children’s eyes change rapidly while they are growing. This is why experts recommend children have yearly eye examinations with an experienced pediatric optometrist. While school screening is helpful for detecting the most basic of vision problems, many other conditions can go unnoticed without comprehensive annual exams. Parents who want to ensure their child has the best chance to achieve academic success should schedule regular eye exams with a qualified optometrist.
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