Peadiatric eye examination

By Mardeen Tait - (UFS) CAS(SA)

Why is an early vision screening so important?

Good vision is key to a child’s physical development, success in school and overall well-being. The vision system is not fully formed in babies and young children, and equal input from both eyes is necessary for the brain’s vision centers to develop normally. If a young child’s eyes cannot send clear images to the brain, his or her vision may become limited in ways that cannot be corrected later in life.

If problems are detected early, it is usually possible to treat them effectively. It is essential to check children’s vision when they are first born and again during infancy, preschool and school years.

Visual acuity should be tested as soon as the child is old enough to cooperate with an eye exam using an eye chart. This is performed during pre-school years if no other eye problems were detected earlier on. Upon entering school, or whenever a problem is suspected, children’s eyes should be screened for visual acuity and ocular alignment by an Optometrist.

A comprehensive eye examination is necessary in the early years when:

  • A child fails a vision screening.

  • Vision screening is inconclusive or cannot be performed.

  • Referred by a pediatrician or school nurse.

  • Their child has a vision complaint or observed abnormal visual behavior or when a family history of eye conditions present.

  • Their child has a learning disability, developmental delay, neuropsychological condition or behavioral issue.

The comprehensive eye examination will then include the child’s visual acuity before correction, ocular muscles testing to see if all the muscles are working correctly, ocular alignment testing to see if the eyes are aligned, accommodative testing to see how the lens focuses, vergence testing to see if the eyes works together by moving in and out, colour vision testing to detect any colour deficiency, depth perception/stereopsis testing to determine if the child can distinguish how far an object is and also do a objective refraction and when applicable a subjective refraction.