Every child deserves the best chance to succeed in school, sports, and social activities. These facets of life all rely on healthy eyes and accurate vision. A child may not know what to expect of their eyes or their vision, meaning they may experience problems without complaining. An annual eye exam is important to ensure they are seeing well and that their eyes are developing as they should.
Your infant’s first eye exam should take place at 6 months of age. We are a proud provider for InfantSEE, a public health program that provides comprehensive eye exams for children between 6 and 12 months of age at no-cost. At these early exams we test for refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. We also check for normal eye teaming and eye health problems. This first exam for your child is a launch pad for healthy vision throughout their childhood.
As your child grows, their eyesight should grow with them. Early identification of myopia, astigmatism, or eye teaming difficulties can have an enormous impact on their ability to achieve in school. Kids suffering from even minor vision problems have less success learning in the classroom, as much of learning is based on vision. They may also suffer in their sports performance, since hand-eye coordination relies on depth perception and eye teaming.
For every age group, eye exams differ. This is due to a number of factors, including the patient’s ability to contribute verbally, progressing motor skills, and common eye conditions found among different age groups.
At this stage in their eye development, we can assess your baby’s budding vision. We will check to see how their near vision is developing. We assess how the eyes work together, determining if there are signs of refractive error, strabismus (eye turn) or amblyopia (lazy eye). Using a light source, we will check that their pupils react normally to changes in light.
Since babies are unable to identify pictures or letters verbally, the optometrist uses a variety of different tests to evaluate their ocular abilities. The preferential looking test pits a blank card against a card with stripes on it, while we watch which card the baby chooses to look at. In the fixate and follow test, the baby watches an object or a light as it moves. We watch the baby’s gaze as it follows the target. We will also use lights to look at the health of the eyes to make sure the corneas, lenses and retinas are clear.
At this point in your child’s development, we will introduce vision testing with pictures, letters, and objects. For children who are learning to read, we will use the Random E’s Visual Acuity Test, wherein we use the letter E in various positions to test their eyesight. The child can respond with their hand to mimic the direction of the letter.
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a common childhood eye disorder. This is when one eye is weaker than the other and is unable to achieve normal visual acuity even with glasses. This can be easily corrected at this age by using eye patch therapy of the stronger eye to encourage the weaker eye to participate.
At this point, a child’s eye exam closely resembles that of an adult’s eye exam. We use eye charts, pictures, and lights to determine visual acuity, eye teaming, and peripheral vision. We also check their depth and color perception. We will use digital imaging to assess the health of their eye structures such as the retina, lens, and optic nerve.
Throughout the school years, the optometrist will ask a number of questions about your child’s behaviour and academic performance. We ask you and your child about things like double vision, headaches, or frequent blinking. We ask if he or she tilts their head to one side or often loses their place while reading, or if they avoid reading altogether. These are good indicators that they are struggling with an acuity issue like near or farsightedness or astigmatism.
For young children, an eye exam can cause anxiety, especially if it is their first visit to an optometrist or they are visiting a new clinic. You can help your child prepare by calmly explaining what they can expect.
The optometrists and the rest of the team at Shady Grove Eye & Vision Care do everything possible to make your family feel relaxed, especially small children. We take care to maintain a welcoming environment to facilitate their comfort. After their first visit, children often feel excited to visit again – the equipment and easy tests are something they look forward to all year!
We are located between Rockville and Gaithersburg, near the Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus off West Montgomery Ave on Shady Grove Road. For more detailed driving instructions, see below.
In addition to our office hours, we offer a 24-hour emergency answering service available to all established patients.
|Monday:||9 AM - 1 PM, 2 PM - 7 PM|
|Tuesday:||9 AM - 12:30 PM, 2 PM - 7 PM|
|Wednesday:||9 AM - 1 PM, 2 PM - 7 PM|
|Thursday:||9 AM - 1 PM, 2 PM - 7 PM|
|Friday:||9 AM - 1 PM, 2 PM - 7 PM|
|Saturday:||9 AM - 2 PM|