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Pediactric Eye Exam FAQ

1. When should I bring my child in for their first exam?

The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that a child have their first exam at 6 months of age. A child should have a comprehensive exam by 3 years of age. All children should have exams yearly.

2. What can I expect from a pediatric exam?

Every pediatric exam is tailored specifically to each child’s abilities and needs. Most exams include a variety of tests including vision assessment with complete refraction to determine if a prescription for eyewear is necessary, ocular motility testing, stereopsis and colour vision testing, and an ocular health exam. The average pediatric exam lasts approximately 15 minutes.

3. What can I expect if my child needs to have eye drops at their exam (cycloplegic refraction)?

For some children, it may be recommended that they have a cycloplegic refraction. This procedure involves instilling drops into your child’s eyes to dilate the pupil and relax the focusing muscles inside the eye. This helps the doctor to further assess and finalize the prescription. The drops take 30 minutes to take full effect and the side effects of blurred vision, light sensitivity and occasionally fatigue can last 8 hours on average. The entire exam, including waiting for the eye drops to take effect, lasts approximately 40 minutes.

4. What is Eye See, Eye Learn?

The Alberta Association of Optometrists along with school boards across Alberta have worked together to create the Eye See, Eye Learn program. This program was created to educate parents on the importance of eye exams for their children. The goal is to have all children have a complete eye exam at or before kindergarten age. This pre-school eye exam helps to prevent unnecessary vision loss from amblyopia (lazy eye) and can also prevent learning difficulties. Be sure to ask our doctors or staff about the program at your child’s next eye exam.

Proper eyes care is an important part of your child’s development and can sometimes be overlooked or seen as unimportant. If left unchecked, impaired vision in your child can lead to falling behind in class, confidence issues, acting out, or, at worse, medical conditions arising without you knowing. Make sure you  contact your pediatric optometrist in Edmonton to book an appointment before that happens.

A child should receive their first eye exam at 6 months old, again at 3, and then at 5 or six to ensure they’re not dealing with any visual impairment as they start school. This is the time that foundations for critical skills are being built and a child dealing with vision impairments may not be able to complete tasks they’re asked to or can’t fully concentrate on the tasks at hand and fall behind. If your child is acting out, you’re hearing from their teachers that they’re not willing or are avoiding reading in class, or your child is having headaches or have little to no attention span for visual tasks, you might want to get their eyesight tested by booking a pediatric eye exam with your Edmonton pediatric optometrist as soon as possible. They may require something as simple as a pair of glasses or something a little more complex such as eye therapy or surgery.

Eye and Vision Issues that Might Affect your Child

Amblyopia: Commonly known as “lazy eye,” this shows up as decreased vision in one or both of the eyes without any damage or eye health problems. Treatment may include a patch on the dominant eye in order to strengthen the weaker eye.

Strabismus: Misalignment of the eyes. Sometimes caused by a congenital defect to the muscles around the eye in charge of movement and positioning. May require surgery depending on severity and cause.

Convergence insufficiency: Inability to comfortably keep an eye aligned when reading or any near tasks. Often successfully treated with vision therapy and eye exercises.

Focusing problems: Also called accommodating problems, this is trouble changing from near to far focus or vice versa, or trouble maintaining focus for reading. Often successfully treated with vision therapy and eye exercises.

Eye teaming problems: More subtle than strabismus and can cause depth perception and coordination problems.

If you suspect your child may have any of these issues, call your pediatric optometrist in Edmonton to book an appointment today!

Comprehensive Pediatric Eye Exams in Edmonton

When booking an eye exam, it’s best to book for a time that your child is generally happy and alert in order to get their cooperation and best results. The exam will typically involve taking your child’s medical history, a vision test, eye alignment testing, and eye health examination.

Some things for you to look out for in your child are:

  • Delayed motor development
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Excessive blinking
  • Failure to maintain eye contact
  • Cannot fixate on objects
  • Has poor eye tracking skills
  • Has failed a previous vision screening

If you notice more than one of these, and haven’t already, it’s time to book a pediatric eye exam with your Edmonton pediatric optometrist today!

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