Comprehensive eye exams vary according to age and establish a baseline from which to track changes in vision over time. Horizon offers many different options and customizes exams to provide the best experience and solution for each patient.
Why is an early eye exam important for babies?
A baby’s brain develops quickly, so it’s essential to identify vision problems in the first few months of life. Horizon Eye Care offers gentle yet thorough routine eye care for newborns to identify any abnormalities or eye disorders.
When a baby is born, he or she is examined for any eye infections that can sometimes be spread from the mother’s birth canal. The baby is also examined for abnormal reactions to light, for cataracts, and any other eye disorders.
Once a little older, examination may involve the doctor covering one eye and using a toy to judge reactions or placing a prism over the eyes to test if one eye is stronger than the other. Amblyopia (also known as "Lazy Eye") commonly starts when one eye has better focus than the other. If left untreated before the age of 6 or 7, amblyopia can permanently damage a child’s vision.
Why are regular eye exams important for children?
The primary concern among school-age children is the unrecognized development of nearsightedness or farsightedness. All school-age children should have their vision evaluated regularly during primary health care visits, in schools or at public screenings. Screenings determine how well the child is seeing, as well as the alignment of his or her eyes.
School-age vision tests are for visual acuity and eye alignment, but a child with clear vision might still have other vision problems. If you notice any apparent vision troubles, regardless of school vision test results, take your child for a thorough eye exam with a Horizon Eye Care doctor.
Depending on the child’s age and ability to respond, testing varies. The primary concern of pediatric ophthalmologists is two-fold: to protect the patient’s long-term vision and to provide a pleasant experience. A pediatric eye exam may involve matching games, cartoons, short films or flashing toys. Or, if the child is able, he or she may be tested on the vision chart.
Retinoscopy is another technique, which objectively determines the refractive error of the eye (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism) and the need for glasses. The test is performed using a handheld instrument called a retinoscope, which projects light into the eye. Because most children do not like the sting caused by dilating drops, Horizon also offers Optomap, a new non-dilation procedure. Of note, Optomap is not always an option and the extra cost is not covered by insurance.
Most childhood vision problems can be treated with a pair of eyeglasses. If your child needs glasses, our kids’ glasses start at $99 for frames and polycarbonate prescription lenses. One of our Optical Technicians can help fit your child for the perfect pair. Popular brands include Miraflex and DilliDalli, both of which are flexible, durable and safe.
Pediatric eye conditions
Strabismus, which refers to any misalignment of the eyes, is a common condition affecting 3-4 percent of children. Strabismus is sometimes referred to as crossed eyes, wandering eyes or lazy eyes. It most commonly affects children in the first few years of life. During this crucial period for the development of sight, eye misalignment can lead to long-term visual dysfunction.
Horizon Eye Care strives to preserve and restore vision through a variety of strabismus treatments, including:
- Eye exercises
- Eye muscle surgery
It is never too late to straighten the eyes but timely treatment of strabismus soon after its onset gives children the best chance for normal visual development. When surgery is necessary, it is performed as an outpatient procedure. Most children are back to their normal activities within a few days.
Amblyopia, which is sometimes caused by strabismus, refers to reduced vision in an eye that is otherwise structurally normal. It typically results when the brain is exposed to blurry or misdirected images from one or both eyes during the critical period for visual development. The most common cause of amblyopia is simply the need for glasses (refractive amblyopia).
There are usually no symptoms for refractive amblyopia; it can only be detected when vision is tested in each eye independently. Refractive amblyopia is common enough that pediatricians and school systems perform vision screening to discover it, but many children are undetected. Set up an examination with a pediatric ophthalmologist at Horizon Eye Care before your child starts kindergarten to ensure that potential problems are detected early enough to allow treatment.
Most amblyopia can be cured if treatment is initiated at a young age. Treatments for amblyopia rapidly start to lose their effect after age seven. Treatment for amblyopia may include:
- Regular eye-patching (we carry the brand Ortopad, which offers fun designs just for children)
- Blurring eye drops
For strabismic amblyopia, the misalignment usually must be corrected.
Atrophine is frequently prescribed for treatment of amblyopia.
Eye Terms & Conditions
The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus (or "AAPOS") has created an exhaustive and helpful list of terminology related to pediatric eye care and conditions. Visit their site here to learn more.
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Horizon Eye Care has the right doctor for every member of your family, regardless of age.
Schedule an exam to identify potential vision issues with your child and prevent future problems. Online, use our Request An Appointment form or Horizon Eye Care’s Patient Portal. Or call 704-365-0555 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).