As a parent, you may wonder whether your preschooler has a vision problem or when you should schedule your child’s first eye exam.
Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. The most common eye disorders found in children are refractive error (the need for glasses), amblyopia (lazy eye), and strabismus (eye turn). Early identification of a child’s vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early and if left untreated, some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first complete eye examination at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6. If a child is found to be at risk for the development of eye or vision problems they may need to be managed on a more routine basis.
If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral can be made to a pediatric eye doctor for further evaluation. Pediatric eye doctors have specific equipment and training to assist them with spotting potential vision problems. A pediatric optometrist or ophthalmologist can evaluate a child’s refractive error, eye teaming ability, and ocular health all before he or she is able to verbalize what they can see.
Early treatment is essential to eliminate preventable vision impairment in children. The majority of children with visual difficulties do not complain due to their inability to differentiate between clear and poor vision. Parents should be aware that a child with a vision problem may squint, sit or hold items at a very close distance, tilt their head to one side, cover or rub their eyes. They may complain of headaches, eye strain, or words blurring together.
Approximately 80% of learning is visually based, therefore undetected and untreated visual problems can negatively impact a child’s ability to reach their full academic potential. Remember vision is not solely based on the ability to see “20/20,” during a visit with an eye care professional. A child’s focusing ability and binocular (eye teaming) system will also be assessed.
When scheduling an eye exam, choose a time when your child is usually alert and happy. Specifics of how eye exams are conducted depend on your child’s age, but an exam generally will involve a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health examination and a consultation with you regarding the findings.
Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has a history of prematurity, has delayed motor development, engages in frequent eye rubbing, blinks excessively, fails to maintain eye contact, cannot seem to maintain a gaze (fixation) while looking at objects, has poor eye tracking skills or has failed a pediatrician or pre-school vision screening.
Campus Eye Center is proud to announce Kathryn A. Andrews, OD, a pediatric Optometrist has joined our practice to enhance our services to the Lancaster community.
Dr. Kathryn (Katie) Andrews graduated with honors from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science. She completed her optometric training at the New England College of Optometry in Boston where she was a member of the Beta Sigma Kappa Optometric Honors Society. During her educational career she received numerous clinical awards and honors.
After receiving her Doctor of Optometry degree, Dr. Andrews went on to complete a residency in pediatric optometry through the New England College of Optometry. During her pediatric residency she saw patients in multiple clinical locations including Tufts Medical Center, Perkins School for the Blind and various other health centers throughout the city of Boston.
Dr. Andrews developed her passion for children while working at her family’s preschool at the age of 16. Dr. Andrews has extensive training in the management of conditions in pediatric patients such as strabismus, amblyopia, and medically necessary contact lenses in infants and pediatric patients. She also enjoys caring for adults with double vision, patients with neurological conditions, and individuals with disabilities.
Dr. Andrews is a member of the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of Optometry, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. She has served on an international mission trip to provide free eye care to patients in the Dominican Republic with VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity) and hopes to continue to offer her time and knowledge to this honorable cause.
In her spare time Dr. Andrews enjoys spending time with her family and husband, Dr. Jonathan Andrews, playing soccer, and cooking.
Good vision care and habits start early.