Pediatrics

Eye care for children and infants

Eye exams for children are very important to insure your child’s eyes are healthy and have no vision problems that could interfere with school performance and potentially affect your child’s safety. Here at Dr. Tavel, we see children for their comprehensive eye exam starting as young as 6 months old.

Early eye exams are important because children need the following visual skills for optimal learning and development:

  • Excellent visual acuity at all distances
  • Accurate and comfortable eye teaming skills
  • Accurate eye movement skills
  • Accurate and comfortable focusing skills

When should your child have an eye exam?

Early and often. The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their first complete vision evaluation between 6 and 12 months old, and again at ages 3 and 5.

Eye testing for infants

When planning your “well baby” checkups, don’t forget about your baby’s eyes. Your pediatrician may look at your child’s eyes on the surface, however, this is not the comprehensive eye exam your child will receive with Dr. Tavel. We have access to special tools that allow us to evaluate the development of vision and eye health in people who cannot tell us how they are seeing.

Babies should be able to see as well as adults in terms of focusing ability, color vision, and depth perception by 6 months of age.

To assess whether your baby’s eyes are developing normally, Dr. Sutherlin will typically use a variation of the following tests:

  • Tests of pupil responses evaluate whether the eye’s pupil opens and closes properly in the presence or absence of light.
  • Preferential looking involves using cards that are blank on one side with icons on the other side to attract the gaze of an infant to the stripes. In this way, vision capabilities can be assessed without the use of a typical eye chart.
  • Determination of a glasses prescription if needed with retinoscopy, a technique that does not require a response from the infant.
  • Evaluation of multiple cranial nerves (these control vision and eye movement)
  • The infant will be dilated with a diluted version of eye drop used for older children or adults.

Eye testing for preschool children

Some parents are surprised to learn that preschool-age children do not need to know their letters in order to undergo certain eye tests, even when they are too young or too shy to verbalize.

Some common eye tests used specifically for young children include:

  • LEA symbols for young children are like regular eye tests using charts with letters, but instead have shapes for the children to name or play a matching game.
  • Retinoscopy is a test that involves shining a light into the to observe the reflection from the back of the eye (retina). This test helps determine if your child has any clouding of the lens of the eye (congenital cataract) or significant refractive error.
  • Dilation or any other eye drops are only used if necessary.

A battery of testing to fully assess their binocular status (how well the eyes work together as a team). Some examples are:

    • Random dot stereopsis testing uses special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses to measure depth perception and appropriate use of central vision.
    • Strabismus and Heterophoria testing

Have a child with Special Needs?

We have got you covered. We will do our best to work with you to give your child a comprehensive eye exam, using tools and methods that require less cooperation than the neuro-typical person. Please alert the technician or doctor of any situations or testing that might be fearful for your child and may be counterproductive for the exam.

You can make an appointment for a pediatric eye exam at either our Lafayette Road location or the Dr. Tavel at East 10th Street.

Pro tip: Try to arrive at your child’s appointment several minutes early to complete some paperwork and alert the staff when scheduling if you think your child might need extra time (such as a child with Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc.).

What to bring

  • If your child currently wears glasses or contact lenses, bring them with you.
  • If you have vision insurance, please bring your insurance card.
  • We also recommend bringing a list of any medications your child is currently taking (prescription or over-the-counter).
  • If your child has a small object (toy, stuffed animal) that may make them more comfortable to hold if they are nervous, feel free to bring it!