As parents, we want what’s best for our children. We want them to grow up healthy and happy, and part of keeping them healthy is making sure their vision is strong.

That’s why pediatric eye exams are so important. Like adults, children can develop vision problems that can impact their ability to learn and succeed in school. In fact, according to the CDC “Approximately 6.8% of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition. Nearly 3 percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.” Unfortunately, many kids with eye and vision conditions likely go undiagnosed.

There are several reasons why children might need to see an eye doctor. Many vision problems are hereditary, so if you or your partner wear glasses or contact lenses, there’s a good chance your child will need them too. If either parent has a family history of eye disease or eye conditions, there’s a chance your child could also develop them. Screens are also having an impact on children’s vision. More and more kids use computers, tablets, and smartphones at younger and younger ages. This increased screen time can lead to digital eye strain, which can cause symptoms like headaches, dry eyes, and blurry vision.

If your child needs a kids eye exam in Denver, call Youth Dental and Vision at (303) 953-8801 to book an appointment with our optometrists at any one of our 4 locations

Signs Your Child Might Need An Eye Exam

There are some warning signs that parents can look for that may indicate their child has a vision problem. 

Some signs to watch out for are

  • Squinting 
  • Rubbing their eyes
  • Holding books very close to their face when reading

 If your child shows any of these signs, they need to see an eye doctor.

There are a number of reasons why early detection and treatment of vision problems are so important for kids.

  1. Many vision problems can lead to learning difficulties. If a child is having trouble seeing the board at school or reading a book, they’re not going to be able to learn as well as they could if their vision was corrected.
  1. Some vision problems can cause headaches and other types of pain. If your child is constantly rubbing their eyes or complaining of headaches, it could be a sign that they need glasses.
  1. If left untreated, some vision problems can lead to permanent damage to the eyes. This is why it’s so important to take your child for regular eye exams – because catching a problem early can make all the difference in their long-term vision health.

When Should My Child Have An Eye Exam?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all children have their eyes checked by their family doctor, a pediatrician, or another medical professional at least once between the ages of 6 and 12 months of age and again at 3 years old. After that, kids should have a comprehensive eye examination every year or two.

Eye Exam For Infants

The first few weeks after your baby is born, their doctor or pediatrician will check their eyes for any obvious problems. 

For this exam, the doctor will likely use a device called an ophthalmoscope to look at their eyes. They may also use a special magnifying glass to get a better look. They will test for eye focusing skills, color vision, and depth perception. 

The doctor will be looking for signs of problems with your child’s vision, such as crossed eyes (strabismus), unequal pupil size, or abnormal eye movements.

Eye Exam For Toddlers And Preschool Children

Between the ages of 3 and 5, your child will likely have another eye exam. For this exam, the doctor will use both an ophthalmoscope and a special magnifying glass to get a better look at your child’s eyes.

They’ll also likely use a device called a retinoscope, which shines a light into your child’s eyes to help the doctor see how their eyes are focusing.

The doctor will be looking for signs of problems with your child’s vision, such as crossed eyes (strabismus), unequal pupil size, or abnormal eye movements.

Eye Exam For School-Age Children

School-age children should have an eye exam every year or two. For this exam, the doctor will use both an ophthalmoscope and a special magnifying glass to get a better look at your child’s eyes.

They’ll also likely use a device called a retinoscope, which shines a light into your child’s eyes to help the doctor see how their eyes are focusing light.

The doctor will be looking for signs of problems with your child’s vision, such as crossed eyes (strabismus), unequal pupil size, or abnormal eye movements.

Vision Screening vs. Eye Exam

It’s important to note the difference between a vision screening and a comprehensive eye exam. A vision screening is a quick test that can identify some common vision problems. However, it’s not as thorough as an eye exam.

A vision screening is often done by a pediatrician, school nurse, or other medical professional. It usually involves a series of simple tests, like having your child read an eye chart or look at pictures to see if they can identify certain shapes or colors.

On the other hand, a comprehensive eye exam is conducted by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. This type of exam is much more thorough and usually takes place in an office setting.

What Happens During An Eye Exam?

During a comprehensive eye exam, the doctor will conduct a series of tests to assess your child’s vision. These tests may include:

  • Visual acuity test: This test measures how clearly your child sees. The doctor will ask your child to read an eye chart or look at pictures to see if they can identify certain shapes or colors.
  • Cover test: This test is used to check for any misalignment of the eyes. The doctor will ask your child to cover one eye and then look at an object in the distance. They will then repeat the process with the other eye.
  • Refraction test: If your child requires corrective lenses, this test measures the prescription they will need. The doctor will ask your child to look at an eye chart and identify the letters or shapes they see. They’ll then use a lighted instrument to shine into your child’s eyes.
  • Extraocular motility: This test is used to check for any problems with the muscles that control eye movement. The doctor will ask your child to follow their finger as they move it around in different directions.
  • Pupil response test: This test is used to check the size and reaction of your child’s pupils to light. The doctor will shine a light into their eyes and observe how their pupils respond.
  • Stereopsis: This test is used to check for depth perception. The doctor will ask your child to look at a series of pictures and identify the object in each one.
  • Ocular health evaluation: This part of the exam is used to check for any problems with your child’s eyes, such as cataracts or glaucoma. The doctor will use a slit lamp to examine the front and back of your child’s eye, as well as a direct ophthalmoscope to look at the inside of the eye. A BIO may also be used to take pictures of the inside of the eye.  
  • Confrontation visual fields: This test is used to check for any problems with peripheral vision. The doctor will ask your child to look at a central object and then identify objects that appear in their peripheral vision.

After the eye exam, the doctor will discuss the results with you and let you know if there are any problems with your child’s vision, and give you an assessment of their overall eye health. If vision correction is necessary, they may prescribe glasses or contact lenses for your child.

How To Prepare Your Child For The Exam

There’s no need to do anything special to prepare your child for an eye exam. Just let them know that the doctor will be looking at their eyes and that they may need to wear glasses or contacts if the doctor finds any problems with their vision.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations for the exam. The doctor won’t be able to diagnose every vision problem during a single exam, so don’t be surprised if they refer you to an ophthalmologist for further testing.

The most important thing you can do is make sure your child gets their eyes checked regularly. This will help ensure that any vision problems are detected early and treated accordingly.

Caring For Your Child’s Vision

You can do a few things at home to help care for your child’s vision. 

  1. Make sure they’re getting enough sleep. Most kids need at least 10 hours of sleep every night, and getting enough rest can help reduce the risk of digital eye strain.
  1. Try to limit their screen time. If your child is using a computer, tablet, or smartphone, make sure they take breaks every 20 minutes to rest their eyes. And when they’re not using screens, encourage them to spend time outside in natural light.
  1. Make sure you’re taking your child for a regular pediatric eye exam. As we mentioned before, kids should have their eyes checked at least once a year. If you notice any changes in your child’s vision or if they’re having any problems with their eyes, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with an eye doctor.

Does Colorado Medicaid Cover Vision?

Yes, it does. The Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) Program provides eyeglasses, frame and lens replacement/repairs, medically necessary contact lenses, ocular prosthetics, and eye exams for children under the age of 20.

Kids Eye Doctor in Denver

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your child has healthy vision for years to come. Our optometrists would be happy to help you with any questions you may have. Call Youth Dental and Vision at (303) 953-8801 to book an appointment with the best kids eye doctor in Denver, at any one of our 4 locations. We offer vision appointments at our two locations in Denver: Grove St and Hampden Ave, as well as in Aurora and Thornton. For more information on our locations or the services we offer, email [email protected].