Pediatric Eye Care
The American Optometric Association recommends that all children have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, another exam at age 3, and a third exam prior to starting school. Our doctor will test for excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, eye movement ability, and eye health problems. Our doctor believes in proactively protecting our children's eyesight by preventing amblyopia and high myopia.
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a visual development disorder in which an eye fails to achieve normal visual acuity even with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Amblyopia begins during infancy and early childhood. In most cases, only one eye is affected. However, in some cases, reduced visual acuity can occur in both eyes.
There are 3 types of amblyopia:
strabismic: presence of a misaligned eye or “eye turn”
refractive: one eye has significantly more prescription
deprivation: due to decreased sensory input to the eye i.e. congenital cataract
Early detection and treatment of amblyopia is essential for normal visual development. Studies have shown that uncorrected refractive errors and amblyopia can result in poor reading performance and delays in reaching developmental milestones.
Amblyopia treatment includes eyeglasses and/or contact lenses, patching therapy, vision therapy, and strabismus surgery. Even though the critical period for intervention is by age 8, older children and adults with amblyopia may benefit from treatment using computer programs that stimulate neural changes leading to improvements in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.
An individual’s vision is determined by refractive (the powers of the cornea and crystalline lens) and axial components of the eye. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is associated with longer axial length, which is the distance between the cornea and the retina’s central focus, the fovea. As a result of this axial growth, myopic individuals have a higher risk of developing retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, and maculopathy.
These are all conditions that could lead to vision loss.
When detected early, retinal detachments and cataracts are treatable with surgery. However, studies have shown that high myopes who undergo cataract surgery may have increased complications. There is currently no cure for glaucoma and maculopathy, and in advanced cases, these conditions will result in blindness. Therefore, it is crucial that myopia is treated early before it causes health risks.
Myopia has become a worldwide public health issue, ranking the 2nd most common cause of blindness globally. The onset and progression of myopia can be caused by genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. If one parent is myopic, the risk of myopia development is 3x. That risk doubles when both parents are myopic. Additionally, advanced technology has led to increased screen time and little or no outdoor recreation.
The simplest lifestyle intervention advised is to spend at least 90 minutes of playing outdoors daily. Bright natural lighting and the infinite distances of the outdoor environment may help slow or stop myopia progression. Sunglasses are still recommended to protect the eyes from harmful UVA and UVB light. Even through tinted sunglasses, the brightness of natural sunlight is greater than that of typical indoor lighting.
At the routine examination, the doctor will evaluate your child’s risk of myopia progression and will recommend treatment option(s). Studies have shown 3 treatment options to be moderately and equally effective:
soft multifocal contact lenses
prescription eye drops with progressive eyeglasses
There is a possibility that treatment could stop progression. However, it is important to have realistic expectations because there will likely still be myopia progression albeit at a slower rate (50%). The overall efficacy of treatment is dependent on the child’s age. Binocular vision testing will also be performed in order to assess the eye muscles’ ability to make both eyes work together. Abnormal test results can affect the efficacy of treatment and vision therapy may be recommended for your child.
Please click on the link below to take a short survey to evaluate your child’s risk of developing myopia and to obtain more information about this condition:
Please contact our office to schedule your child’s exam and to learn more information!