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Sharp eyesight is especially important for young children, because good vision is necessary for all aspects of early childhood development. Proper visual skills help children learn and grow cognitively. Your child needs the clearest possible eyesight at all distances, far and near. S/he also needs eye teaming skills, (the ability to use both eyes together), to better understand the world. Children also need good eye muscle control and movement ability, as well as eye-hand coordination. That’s why the AOA (American Optometric Association) suggests children have their first pediatric optometry appointment at about 6 months of age.
At the earliest pediatric eye examinations, our optometrist will check for preferential eye tracking. To evaluate this, we use printed cards (and blanks) to determine if the baby pays attention to the images. Our optometrist will also get your infant to follow movement of an object to see how their eyes work together. We will also check your baby’s response to light, to be sure his or her pupils grow smaller or larger with different levels of light exposure.
In general, the first checkup should be at 6 months or soon after. Then, you should schedule another exam at age 3 and every year thereafter. If you notice visual changes (or related behavioral changes) in your child, you should always make an appointment for an eye exam—even if it is not yet time for the next regularly scheduled visit. Your eye doctor may suggest a slightly different eye exam schedule for your particular child.
Our pediatric eye examinations typically include: taking your child’s medical history, vision testing using a special eye chart and other methods. We also conduct a thorough eye health assessment, check eye function, focusing ability, coordination and eye teaming. With regular childhood vision testing, we will quickly discover problems like Lazy eye or crossed eyes. This way, we can begin any needed treatment early, such as recommending proper prescription eyewear, vision therapy exercises, a temporary eye patch or other corrective measures, if necessary.
Tell us about things like a premature birth, or pregnancy (and/or childbirth) complications. Let us know about any questions you may have about your child’s visual development. Do you notice any signs of delayed development? When your child is old enough to start school and learn to read, let us know if s/he seems to have trouble concentrating or experiences problems in school. These can be related to poor eyesight or eye coordination problems--and we can help. Tell us about your family history of eye disease as well, so we can watch for signs of hereditary conditions.
When it's time for your child's first eye exam, contact your dedicated local pediatric optometrist, Dr. Angie Dabbs, at Hyde Eye Care, here in Morristown TN. Call us at 423-581-2020 today.