How Often Should I Have my Children’s Eyes Screened?
A leading ophthalmologist for kids recommends the following schedule for pediatric eye examinations.
Screening for eye disease by trained personnel— ophthalmologist, pediatrician, or trained screener should be conducted at:
- Newborn to 3 months
- 6 months to 1 year
- 3 years (approximately)
- 5 years (approximately)
Some factors may put your child at increased risk for eye disease. If any of these factors apply to your child, check with your pediatric ophthalmologist to see how often he or she should have a medical eye exam:
- Premature birth
- Developmental delay
- Personal or family history of eye disease
- African-American heritage (African-Americans are at in icreased risk for glaucoma)
- Previous serious eye injury
- Use of certain medications (check with your Eye M.D, Ophthalmologist.)
- Some diseases that affect the whole body (such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, or HIV infection)
How Can I Keep my Child’s Eyes Healthy?
Nearly one in twenty preschoolers and one in four school-aged children have a problem that could result in permanent vision loss if left untreated. That is why it is important to have your child’s eyes screened by an eye specialist, such as an ophthalmologist, primary care provider, family doctor, pediatrician, or a trained screener.
Your children should see an Eye M.D. promptly if there is a family history of eye problems or if a problem is apparent. An ophthalmologist can detect possible vision problems and take action to correct them early before they become more serious.
Every child should have an eye screening before age 5.
An eye care professional will screen your child for:
- Amblyopia—a serious disorder in which the brain “shuts off” images from a “weaker” or misaligned eye. The problem can often be corrected by patching the stronger eye for a period of time. If not treated early, the condition can become permanent.
- Ptsosis—a drooping of the upper eyelid. The lid may droop slightly or it may completely cover the pupil. At times, ptsosis can restrict or block normal vision. Surgery usually corrects the problem, but there are times when medications are used instead.
- Strabismus—sometimes signaled by “crossed eyes,” this disorder can lead to serious vision problems. It can often be corrected with glasses or in some cases surgery.
- Refractive errors—these include nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. These problems can be corrected with glasses or for older children contact lenses. Because some of these conditions are easy to miss, early detection and treatment of childhood eye problems is crucial for maintaining good vision throughout life. Consider the recommended schedule for pediatric eye examinations. Also, another way to ensure your child keeps his or her good vision throughout life is for you to set a good health example:
- Always wear protective eyewear when playing sports, working in the yard, using harsh chemicals or working on the car.
- Make sure your children know the hazards of playing with fireworks. Don’t use them yourself or allow kids to use them. Instead, take your family to a professional fireworks show.
- Have your own eye exams (and other health exams) at recommended intervals. It demonstrates to your child that his or her body is worth taking care of and that preventive medicine is the best medicine.