Pediatric Eye Exam
Because many eye problems start at an early age, regular pediatric eye exams are essential to detecting issues early and preserving long-term vision. At Newport Eye Care in Newport and Waterville, Maine, we provide comprehensive eye care for the whole family, including children and teenagers. Our experienced eye doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating eye health and vision problems in children of all ages.
We find working with children very rewarding. There’s nothing better than helping a child see clearly and realize there’s a whole new world out there.
When does your child need to visit the eye doctor?
Your child should have their first eye exam at six months, followed by a second exam at three years old and once more before they enter kindergarten. For school-aged children, you should schedule an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be seen annually or as recommended by their eye doctor.
The tests your eye doctor uses will depend on your child’s age, but an exam generally includes a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing eye alignment, an eye health evaluation, and prescribing eyeglasses if necessary.
Why are eye exams important for children?
Regular pediatric eye exams are crucial for monitoring the vision and eye health of children. By addressing eye conditions and vision problems early, we can minimize the potential complications they may cause. Early intervention is key to ensuring that children have the best possible visual health and maximize their learning potential.
Vision is essential to learning. About 80% of all learning is visual, which means children with vision problems can face significant challenges. Our pediatric eye exams in Newport and Waterville ensure children have the necessary visual skills for effective reading and writing:
- Excellent vision for near, up-close work and distance.
- Comfortable and correct “eye teaming,” which means the eyes work well together and can focus on the same place in space.
- The ability to adjust focus to see clearly at different distances.
- Accurate eye movement skills, such as the ability to read a line of text.
What are the signs of vision problems in children?
Vision problems in children can be the hardest to detect. Children might not be aware they have a vision problem because they think everyone sees the same way they do. The good news is many vision problems and eye issues can be identified during a comprehensive pediatric eye exam with a qualified optometrist. Early detection is crucial because if left untreated, these problems can permanently affect a child’s vision and even lead to developmental delays and learning difficulties. That’s why it’s essential to schedule regular pediatric eye exams to ensure timely detection and treatment of any issues, preventing lifelong visual impairment.
Signs your child should see a pediatric optometrist:
- Frequent blinking, squinting, or irregular eye movements
- Frequently turning or tilting their head
- Covering or closing one eye to see better
- Poor hand-eye coordination or motor skills
- Rubbing their eyes frequently
- Frequent headaches
- Leaning in too close to see something or read
- Learning difficulties and poor handwriting
If your child displays any of these behaviors, they may have a vision or eye health problem and should see an eye doctor. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that your child may have no symptoms and still have an eye issue. Therefore, regular eye exams are important to ensure optimal eye health for your child.
What’s the difference between a vision screening and a comprehensive eye exam?
A vision screening is a basic test performed by a school nurse or a pediatrician that checks for the presence of any obvious vision problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. While these screenings help identify children who may need further evaluation, they are not comprehensive eye exams.
A comprehensive eye exam conducted by an optometrist involves a more thorough evaluation of the eyes and visual system. This includes testing visual acuity, evaluating the structures of the eye, checking for eye muscle coordination, and assessing color vision. A comprehensive eye exam is recommended for all children to ensure optimal eye health and function.
Comprehensive eye exams can detect vision problems that may not be apparent during a simple vision screening. For example, a child may have an underlying eye condition, such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed eyes), that is not readily detected by a screening but requires specialized testing and treatment.
Schedule a pediatric eye exam in Waterville or Newport
Don’t wait until your child is experiencing vision problems to schedule a pediatric eye exam. Regular eye exams can help detect and treat vision issues early, ensuring that your child is seeing their best. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our Newport or Waterville location.
Can my child wear contact lenses during sports activities?
Yes, kids can wear contacts while playing sports. Many young athletes find them to be convenient because they don’t fog up like glasses or fall or slip while playing.
When should my child's eyes be examined?
Children should see an eye doctor at age 3. If there’s a family history of strabismus (crossed eyes) or amblyopia (lazy eye), it’s better to have them see an eye doctor earlier, ideally at 3 months old.