Pediatric Eye Exams

Pediatric Eye Exams in Bellflower

The Importance of Pediatric Eye Examinations for Children

Comprehensive pediatric eye examinations are critical for monitoring vision and overall eye health in children.

A pediatric eye exam is more than a simple screening, it is an assessment of your child's visual function and development and eye health including:

  • Eye diseases and disorders
  • Infections
  • Evidence of visual-motor, cognitive, and neurological deficits. 

An accurate description of visual strength not only takes acuity into account but our ability to gather and process visual information. A child may have "perfect" vision but struggle with optometric deficits that affect learning. Studies show that most vision problems that affect learning are not caused by poor eyesight. In many instances, there is nothing wrong with the visual system. Often, issues related to visual-motor or cognitive-developmental delay can be detected during such examinations.

Amplify Eyecare of Greater Long Beach

Vision Development

While fundamental stages of visual advancement take place in infancy and toddlerhood, it is possible to develop these skills in young adulthood and beyond. They are important for monitoring conditions that might affect learning in school which can lead to stress and anxiety. Vision is crucial for learning and development for the following reasons:

  • More than 85% of our brain is linked to vision
  • It is the brain’s fastest and most effective way of processing information. 
  • The early development of visual skills and neuroplasticity allows children to meet age-related visual demands as they get older.  As new nerve pathways are developed, they have a greater chance of being visually on par with their peers. 
  • It allows children to develop critical skills needed to process what they read, learn, and how to interact with the world around them.

Who is at Risk For Eye Disorders?

Although certain populations are at greater risk for developing eye disorders than others, it is important to remember that child development is very individual and must be treated as such. All children should be evaluated for eye disorders even if they do not seem to be at risk.

Individuals at particular risk include those who with:
  • Neurological or developmental challenges
  • Autism
  • Downs Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Genetic disorders
  • Were born prematurely
  • Present with a family history

Signs of Visual Problems

  • Reduced hand-eye coordination: An example can be seen when a child is unable to catch a ball that is thrown towards them. The inability to do so points to their difficulty in interpreting speed in relation to where they are. 
  • Compensation: When a child points to each word they read. Doing so is often a way for them to compensate for their inability to track words. 
  • Avoidance: If a child finds it too difficult to read or track the words on a page, she may avoid the material altogether. This kind of avoidance is often displayed through excessive movements, such as squirming in their seat, speaking out of turn, or "spacing out" because they cannot focus on the material.

Physical Symptoms

Eye problems that involve an inability to focus or poor vision often present as physical symptoms. These include:

  • Headaches
  • Red eyes
  • Eye rubbing
  • Eyestrain
  • Complaints of poor vision ("I can't see!")

Knowing What to Look For Problems with Visual Perception

A child who struggles with visual perception will often struggle with mastery of any number of tasks. That is why it is important to recognize the signs that suggest the presence of a deficit, particularly if they have:

  • Poor handwriting
  • Difficulty in copying from a whiteboard
  • A tendency to omit or re-read words
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Difficulties with letter and number reversals, such as confusing “b” with “d”.

Emotional Symptoms of Visual Perceptual Problems

The emotional effects of having a visual perception problem can be devastating. The inability to perform well in school often leads to low self-esteem and can lead a child to think they are stupid, causing them to lose the motivation needed to succeed. Being able to identify signs of emotional distress is critical, particularly if a child exhibits:

  • Signs and symptoms of depression or stress
  • Extreme irritability or temper tantrums
  • A short attention span
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks

Common Eye Problems Found In Children

Many optometrists recommend at least one comprehensive pediatric eye exam before your child begins school. Some common eye conditions in children include:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Genetic diseases
  • Astigmatism
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye). This condition occurs in  the absence of normal visual development. Treatments include vision therapy, patching, and eye drops.
  • Strabismus (double vision)

Vision Screening from a Pediatrician vs. Eye Exams From A Pediatric Optometrist

It's important not to get confused between a rudimentary screening performed by a pediatrician (or a school nurse) and a comprehensive eye examination from a pediatric optometrist. The former is done by a pediatrician as part of a standard physical exam. The latter is an exam by a trained eye doctor, which can extensively test all aspects of visual health. 

Anatomy of a Pediatric Eye Exam: What to Expect

The examination will begin with a case history of the child, including family and personal medical history, observations from the school, and complaints from the child. Following this, the optometrist will examine the following:

  • "Good vision" or visual acuity: Tests involve the eyes working together and the individual eye. For children and babies unable to communicate there are special technologies for babies using pictures to assess their vision.
  • Usage: Tests include the cover test, testing for color, 3d, track
  • Phoropter for older children to check if they need prescription lenses.
  • Slit-lamp gives a good look at the eye
  • dilating drops allow for analysis of the back of the eye.
  • Review of findings, recommendations, treatments, scheduling future testing

Early Stages of Testing

  • Newborns: Newborns require a proper assessment to check the startle reflex and any noticeable signs of eye disease, in particular if there is a family history of such complications. Such tests can be done by the pediatrician.
  • Babies 6-12 months: Within the first year, the pediatrician will assess eye movement, alignment, and overall eye health.  
  • 12 to 36 months: Overall eye health is assessed often with the aid of photo screening to monitor for signs of eye problems.  If any problems are noted, follow-up will usually involve an eye doctor. 
  • 3-5 years: The child will be checked for issues of alignment and vision. If there are signs that further intervention is required, they will usually involve an optometrist.
  • 5 years and older: Further assessment of eye alignment and to gauge visual acuity. Signs of eye issues will be addressed by an optometrist.

Common Questions

The challenges for a pediatric eye exam depend on age, maturity, and temperament. Depending on the child, an exam can seem scary, tedious, boring, etc. Many pediatricians are wonderful with children and they are trained to deal with different types of children using humor and friendliness to make the exam more fun. Do your research to find practitioners with excellent reputations working with children. Additionally, prepare your child before the exam.
Problems include squinting, eye-rubbing, headaches, blurry vision, needing to sit near the board, etc.
Neither a school vision screening nor a pediatric screening is sufficient for assessing overall ocular health. They are rudimentary tools for identifying possible problems to be followed up with an optometrist.
Most exams follow a similar layout in terms of tests performed. There is a visual acuity test, retinoscopy, refraction, external exam, slit lamp, and a dilation. These tests center around clarity of vision, retinal health and general eye health.
You should schedule an eye exam with a pediatric eye doctor to assess the aspects of visual development that are not assessed at a routine eye exam. Furthermore as a child starts reading it is critical to identify if there are any visual processes that may impact school performance. Since so much of learning is visual it is our recommendation that you do not wait for symptoms to present before taking your child for a pediatric or developmental eye exam, rather you should assess your child's vision by a pediatric optometrist around the time they enter into first grade. If your child has had a pediatric or developmental eye exam and nothing was identified, they can then go for a comprehensive eye exam at the time table recommended by the optometrist (usually every 2 years if your child does not need glasses or annually if they do). If your child has pre-myopia or myopia (nearsighted) they should visit a pediatric optometrist to begin myopia management, which is a specialized contact lens or eye drops that slow down the rate of progression of myopia. This is extremely important as studies show that myopia that progresses to -5 or worse increases the risks of serious eye disease by as much as 2200 percent later in life.
Dr. Ikeda cartoon

Pediatric Eye Exams Are Important

There are no substitutes for routine pediatric examinations to monitor and maintain overall ocular health to detect eye disorders and visual motor neurological deficits. Contact us to find out more.

Testimonials


  • I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.


    Claire A.

  • Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.


    Jim K.

  • My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!


    Teresa S.

  • The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.


    Joe M.

  • I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.


    Kayla W.

Blog

strabismus_esotropia_large-e1627986452983

Can lazy eye be treated for adults?

Amblyopia is very common in adults, with a US prevalence ranging between 1% and 4%. Lazy eye or amblyopia can […]

Read More
pexels-anna-shvets-5231265

Hands-Free Magnification: Telescopic, Microscopic, And Prismatic Low Vision Glasses

It is estimated that 12 million Americans over the age of 40 have some form of vision impairment. Magnification devices […]

Read More
children-drawing-together-classroom (1)

Binocular vision and why two eyes need to work together

A significant percentage at least 10% to 20% of the population suffers from binocular vision dysfunction, yet almost no one […]

Read More
see all blogs

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare

Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach Logo

Working Hours

Monday & Wednesday
9:00AM–6:00PM

Tuesday & Thursday
8:00AM–5:00PM

Saturday
By appointment only

Friday & Sunday
Closed

 

 

Location
16816 Clark Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706, United States
Fax
(562) 867-8719
Website Accessibility Policy
Safety protocols page
privacy policy
Cancellation Policy
For Patients
appointment
Call Us
Referrals
Assessments
For Patients
appointment
Call Us
Referrals
Assessments
eyefile-adduserphone-handsetcalendar-fullarrow-uparrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram