Pediatric exams, because eye exams aren’t just for grown-ups.
Kids need eye exams, too! Maybe even more than adults. Pediatric eye exams are important for so many reasons. While many optometrists take pediatric patients, Eyes of New Mexico’s founder did her residency in pediatrics. We know there’s so much more to helping children see well than just fitting them for glasses.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know for the health of your kids’ eyes.
At What Age Do Pediatric Eye Exams Start?
It’s never too early to have your child’s eyes checked. We can check your child’s vision at any age. We can perform an eye exam if you or your pediatrician have any concerns about their vision, or if you are simply interested in comprehensive eye care for them starting at an early age.
The good news is we don’t need them to be able to answer any questions. Pediatric exams are completely objective. If your child hasn’t started talking yet or if your child is nonverbal, you can rest easy knowing we can take care of them, no matter their language skills or verbal development.
Why Are Pediatric Exams Important?
Pediatric eye exams are essential to make sure kids stay on track in school and in life. Young kids especially can fall behind if they have undiagnosed vision impairments. A vision issue can interfere with reading, performance, interest in school, and reaching important educational milestones. With little ones, vision issues can also lead to safety concerns. Kids can act like monkeys, running and climbing and playing, with little regard to where they’re going and what obstacles might be in their path. Seeing clearly can make the difference between skipping and tripping.
Eye exams are important for older kids as well. Teenagers are able to identify and talk about their health and well-being, including their vision, more than younger children, but they might be too busy to take notice if they’re vision changes as they get older. Regular eye exams can ensure the healthy development of their eyes, as well as identify and correct any concerns should they arise.
Why Do Kids Need Glasses?
There are a few common reasons children might need glasses:
Myopia (near-sightedness): if your child can see objects that are close-up but struggles with things at a distance, this is an indicator of myopia. Children don’t normally outgrow near-sightedness. in fact, most pediatric myopia progressively worsens as the child grows. Identifying this condition and treating it from the onset is important. With myopia, glasses or vision correction are necessary.
Hyperopia or far-sightedness: being farsighted typically comes with subtle complaints of headaches or excessive tiredness at the end of every day. It can also show up as avoidance of homework or difficulty in school. For these reasons, it’s important to have every child’s eyes checked.
Accommodative Esotropia or crossing eyes: this is excessive hyperopia (far-sightedness) which causes their eyes to cross as they adjust from distance to close-up. Glasses can correct their vision and prevent their eyes from crossing.
Astigmatism: this is also common in adults as we age and occurs when the child’s cornea is oval instead of round. It causes blurred vision but is correctable with glasses.
Anisometropia: this happens when the child’s vision is different in each eye. Prescription glasses can adjust their vision and help them see clearly with different lenses to accommodate each eye.
Amblyopia or lazy eye: glasses can often help lazy eyes develop properly, but when glasses aren’t enough, we offer treatments such as patching or eye drops, to help strengthen the weaker eye.
What About Contact Lenses for Kids?
It might surprise you to know that we recommend contact lenses for kids of all ages. In fact, they’re a great option for kids who are very active or for kids who tend to forget, lose, or break their glasses constantly. As long as both the parents and the child are on board and able to take responsibility for proper wear and care, we can get your child fitted with lenses that complement the glasses.
Ortho-k lenses are another option for kids. Worn at night they temporarily reshape the cornea to correct vision issues. They’re an alternative to glasses or daily contat lenses as well as an alternative to Lasik that’s safe for kids and can potentially stop the eyes from continuing to get worse.
Whatever contact lenses you choose, our office performs proper training on cleaning, lens insertion and removal, and the dos and don’ts of contact lens wearing before anyone leaves our office with new contacts, kids included.
Kids of all ages should have regular eye exams to make sure their eyes are healthy and developing properly. Our comprehensive testing means we can tell how they see the world, even if they’re too little to tell us. Make sure your kids can see clearly, so they stay ahead of the game with growth, school, sports, activities, and just being a kid. Click the button below to make an appointment with our experienced doctors at Eyes of NM for a comprehensive pediatric eye exam today.