Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Pediatric Eye Exams

Child and parent during a pediatric eye exam
At Campus Eye Center, one of our primary goals is to provide educational and health resources for our valued patients. Children’s eye health and safety is a foundational topic since parents and caregivers of babies, preschoolers, elementary school students, pre-teens, and teens need to be armed with vital eye health information to ensure their kids can thrive.

Central to this is knowing how critical it is to visit a pediatric eye doctor for an initial eye exam before age one. The earlier healthy eye care habits are established, the better. However, if your child is older and hasn’t yet had an eye exam, there’s no time like the present.

Have questions about what a pediatric eye exam entails for the youngest patients? Read on to get our answers to a few of the most significant questions and concerns parents often have about children’s eye exams.

Am I able to accompany my child throughout their exam?

pediatric eye examAbsolutely! In fact, children’s eye care providers require a caregiver to accompany their preschool children. Kids tend to be less anxious with their parents or caregivers in the exam room, and we need you there to discuss any concerns we may have. Many parents also find their child’s first eye exam to be a great bonding experience.

Both the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommend that infants have their first comprehensive eye examination at six months of age. And your child’s eye doctor often welcomes parents and caregivers to hold babies on their laps throughout their examinations. Older kids are welcome to sit in the exam chair themselves, but we invite parents to sit close by and participate.

Will my child’s eyes be dilated?

Infants will not need to have their pupils dilated during an initial eye exam, though your preschool-age child’s eye doctor may want to better look at the structures of your child’s eyes, which requires dilation. Eye drops will be placed in your child’s eyes, and they will cause blurry vision and light sensitivity, but very temporarily.

Pupil dilation is necessary to give your child’s eye doctor a thorough look at the retinas, optic nerves, and blood vessels inside the eye and make sure they are developing normally.

What can I expect from my child’s first eye exam?

The exam process will naturally vary depending on the eye care provider you’ve chosen. Pediatric eye exams are also closely tailored to a child’s age, with infants receiving more of an overall assessment of their visual development that often involves getting a detailed medical history from you, the parent. Because many vision problems are hereditary, we will ask you about family history, as well as your own health history.

What to Expect at Your Child’s Eye Exam Appointment at Campus Eye Center

Here at Campus Eye Center, your child’s eye health and good vision are our top priority. Our pediatric optometrist, who is specially trained to spot potential vision problems and eye conditions in children, will evaluate your child’s visual acuity and overall eye health in our comfortable, kid-friendly office.

We utilize specialized equipment to evaluate your child for common vision disorders and eye problems, including:

  • Refractive errors, which signal the need for glasses or contact lenses (in older children)
  • Amblyopia, or lazy eye
  • Strabismus (eye turn or misalignment)

If your child is experiencing significant eye health concerns, you will be referred to our comprehensive neuro-ophthalmology subspecialty, which we provide for children (and adults) right here in our offices.

Our eye health care exams for children go beyond evaluating your child for “20/20” vision

We’ll also evaluate your child’s color vision, focusing ability, and binocular vision (the ability of the eyes to work together), as well as their overall ocular health. Using state-of-the-art equipment, we can spot vision difficulties long before a child can verbalize what they can see.

What different eye conditions do you usually look for in a child’s first eye exam?

As mentioned above, we will look for the most common vision disorders and eye problems in kids, including checking for things like astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. We also ensure that your child’s vision is developing appropriately with focusing/accommodation testing, depth perception testing, and more.

Beyond the exam room, parents and caregivers need to be on the lookout for common eye health issues like the ones we covered in our earlier blog post about childhood eye diseases and conditions. Things like pink eye (conjunctivitis) do not always require an office visit, but you may want to consult your child’s eye doctor if you notice any of the symptoms of any eye health issue. Some are emergencies that require immediate care.

Are there any signs I should be looking for as my child’s eye health develops?

Since the youngest kids can’t easily articulate eye conditions or problems that might require glasses, parents and caregivers should pay attention to subtle signals that children are experiencing eye health or vision issues as they grow. These can include:

  • Infants and toddlers not reaching visual milestones, such as tracking moving objects by two months of age or crawling by 10 months.
  • Squinting or tilting the head to one side when focusing on something.
  • Regularly holding items close to the face to look at them.

Vision problems can also cause kids to rub their eyes frequently and complain of headaches.

Campus Eye Center Leads the Way in Pediatric Eye Exams in Lancaster, PA

At Campus Eye Center, our mission is to protect, preserve, and improve the vision of those we serve in Lancaster County—children and adults alike—by utilizing a patient-centered practice approach characterized by outstanding clinical, technical, surgical, and personal expertise and service.

Our team of experienced board-certified MDs, ophthalmologists, and doctors of optometry work hard to provide an excellent continuum of care from routine eye exams to advanced treatment options and surgical procedures for patients of all ages.

Call us at (717) 544-3900 today to schedule your or your child’s next routine eye exam! We look forward to seeing your family soon at Campus Eye Center.