When should you first have your child’s eyes examined?
Pediatricians recommend having an infant’s eyes examined at six weeks, at six months, then at one, three, five and seven years. They should undergo these screening examinations even if there is no problem. If, however, a disorder is noted, then the child should be taken to an eye specialist as soon as possible. Extra attention should be given to premature infants as well as to those whose family history includes various eye disorders.
What symptoms should we look for?
One indication of a problem is if, by three months the infant is not responding to light, does not recognize faces, blinks often, squints, rubs its eyes, leans too close to its toys or books, tends to be tired, is often fussy and complains of headaches. Then, later on in school, the child has unjustified behavioral problems, reading and learning difficulties, does not recognize distant objects, etc. Eyes that do not work together and strabism (crossed eyes) are important symptoms and should not be considered as esthetic problems only and recurring red eyes, inflammation and discharge in the eyes should be followed up on.
Do I need to take my child for an ophthalmological screening examination even if there is no problem with his or her eyesight?
Yes. The child should be screened every six months during the first year and then at least every two years. The years 0-6 are determining years in the development of good eyesight making early discovery of any problems and its correction important for good eyesight in the adult years.
What happens during the examination of small children?
The tests used for adults cannot be used for small children; however, many various tests exist for testing their eyesight. For testing possible refraction disorders, following pupil dilatation with eye drops, the examination is performed with a hand held instrument. Special tests are used for screening small children for strabism, amblyopia, to test whether the eyes are working together, color vision and possible developmental disorders.
My little boy is cross eyed. Does he need to be treated or will he outgrow it?
It should definitely be treated. Strabism, as well as astigmatism are not only refraction disorders but cause depth perception problems, may be an indication of the eyes not working properly together, moreoever, may be an indication of another disorder. If it is not treated, amblyopia may develop. In the case of double vision, the brain will only use the images it receives from one eye and with amblyopia resulting in the other eye. With timely treatment, however, the condition can be completely corrected.