Why are Eye Exams Important?
Regardless of age or health, it is important to have regular eye exams.
Contact lens prescription. During the exam, your doctor will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, asses how your eyes work together, and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health.
Eye examinations are an important part of healthy living. Adults should have their eyes examined to keep their prescriptions up-to-date and to check for early signs of disease. Even if you do not need vision correction, you still need an eye exam every two to three years up to the age of 40, depending on your rate of visual change and overall health. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other disorders need more frequent exams because many diseases such as these can have an impact on vision and eye health.
It is also important for children to have their eyes checked as eye exams can play an important role in normal development. According to the American Optometric Association, all children should have their eyes checked at 6 months of age, at 3 years old, and again at the start of school. Children without vision problems or risk factors for eye problems should then continue to have their eyes examined at least every two years throughout school. Those children with existing problems or risk factors should be seen more frequently.
No matter who you are, regular eye exams are important for seeing more clearly, learning more easily, and preserving your vision for life.
What Information Should I Take with Me to My Eye Exam?
It is important to have some basic information ready, such as:
All glasses and contact lenses that you routinely use, including reading glasses
A list of any medications you take including dosages and over-the-counter medicines
A list of any nutritional supplements you take
A list of questions to ask the doctor
Bring your medical or vision benefits plan card if you will be singing it for a portion of your fees
Vision benefits plan can lower the annual expenses of routine eye exams and prescription eyewear. A vision benefits plan policy, however, is not the same as health insurance. Instead of a plan that protects you against financial losses due to unexpected eye injuries or disease, vision benefits plan is a wellness benefit designed to provide vision-related services at a reduced cost.
Group vision benefits plan can be obtained through your company, school district, association, etc. or through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid. An individual may also purchase his/her own vision plan.
A vision benefits package typically provides those enrolled to eye care services in exchange for an annual premium, a yearly deductible for each enrolled member and a co-pay each time a member accessing a service.
A discount plan provides eye care at fixed discounted rates after an annual premium or membership fee and a deductible is paid.
Annual eye examinations
LASIK and PRK vision correction at discounted rates
My pediatrician recommended that I take my son to an eye doctor. How do I choose one that is right for my child?
It is important that your child is examined by an optometrist who is experienced in children’s vision care. Vision not only allows your child to see the world clearly, but also affects life experiences such as hitting a ball, doing homework, reading a book, or playing video games. It is important that the doctor you choose sees children as their primary patient base, so when calling an office, ask if infants are seen for vision care. If the answer to this question is yes, then consider scheduling an appointment for your child.
A developmental optometrist will evaluate your child’s eyesight, need for glasses, and the presence of disease; but the examination does not stop here. The developmental optometrist will go beyond the normal exam by also evaluating how your child uses his/her eyes to perform in the classroom and on the athletic field. The goal is to improve how your child performs visually. An ophthalmologist, or surgeon, will look for eye disease which requires surgery. If you contact an ophthalmologist, he/she will not be addressing how your child performs in school or on the field.
Is it really possible for my infant or toddler to have a comprehensive eye exam? How can the doctor tell what my child is seeing before he/she can even talk?
At Midwest Vision Care, LLC, we have eye exams that are specifically designed for children at each age and developmental level. We use equipment and procedures specifically designed to evaluate eyesight, eye-hand coordination, depth perception, visual development, and overall eye health. We care about your child’s vision.
Although infants cannot speak, optometrists have clinical education, training, and experience, as well as instruments and resources, to provide non-invasive eye and vision assessments for any non-verbal patients. Additionally, volunteer InfantSEE® optometrists have access to additional American Optometric Association training in working effectively with babies—and parents.
During the examination, parents may hold the baby and help to assist by holding targets or toys in order to keep the baby’s attention. The optometrist will typically evaluate visual acuity, refraction, motility, alignment, binocularity, and overall eye health. The doctor will, however, gauge the baby’s comfort level with specific techniques and adjust them as necessary. These tests will determine signs of strabismus, amblyopia, or other diseases of the eye as described below.
Visual Acuity/Refractive Status
The evaluation of visual acuity and refraction are largely intended to measure for nearsightedness or farsightedness which are common risk factors for amblyopia. Amblyopia develops when an otherwise healthy eye has not received adequate use during early childhood. Nearsightedness or farsightedness occurring in an infant’s growing and developing eye can cause the brain to favor seeing through one eye while suppressing vision in the other eye. This can lead to permanent vision impairment. Instead of using the letter or symbol chart to evaluate visual ability, tools such as gray cards with various sized stripes or pictures may be used to determine at which objects the baby prefers to look and at what distances. The doctor may also use loose lenses and a handheld light instrument to assess how the eye responds to particular targets. In many cases, the infant may have some degree of refractive error not requiring intervention.
Ocular Motility/Alignment/Binocular Potential
The assessments for motility, alignment, and binocularity can determine the presence of strabismus. Strabismus, an eye turn, occurs when one eye does not aim at the same object as the other eye. This can lead to amblyopia if undetected or may indicate a number of ocular diseases. The evaluation also measures eye coordination which is the ability of both eyes to work together as a team and create one three-dimensional image in the brain.
Good eye coordination is not a skill that is innate. It must be developed in order to keep the eyes in alignment. Poor eye coordination later in life may cause difficulties with performing near tasks for an extended amount of time and result in avoidance of near work such as writing, art, and reading. The optometrist tests the eyes’ ability to move by using simple instruments such as penlights, finger puppets, or toys to get the baby’s attention and observe how they follow the movements of the object. By simply shining a penlight toward the eyes, the doctor can determine eye alignment. The optometrist can also evaluate the baby’s depth perception by using 3-D glasses and displaying 3-D pictures. To the baby with adequate eye coordination, the pictures will appear to pop out of the page, and the infant will reach out to touch it.
Overall Eye Health
The optometrist will view the external structures of the eye as well as eyelids, tear ducts and other parts of the eye. From this assessment, the doctor can often detect existing allergies. The examination continues with an assessment of pupil function followed by an examination of the inner eye through dilated pupils. The evaluation of the inner eye can detect ocular diseases such as retinal blastoma, the seventh most common pediatric cancer.
Comprehensive Eye Exams are Important for Classroom Success
The American Optometric Association (AOA) reminds parents that good vision is critical for many classroom tasks- from reading to seeing the blackboard to viewing a computer screen. Without a healthy vision, students face unnecessary challenges, not only in the classroom, but also to their mental, physical, social, and emotional well being.
According to the AOA, a comprehensive eye examination is one of the most important "to-do’s” as your children head back to school. It is, however, often overlooked even though one in four children have undetected vision problems.
My preschooler has been bumping into things around the house. Could he/she have poor depth perception? Can the optometrist check for this?
A comprehensive eye exam at Midwest Vision Care, LLC can detect deficiencies in-depth perception. Vision therapy can often correct these deficiencies. If you suspect that your child is having any problems with his/her vision, please contact our office and schedule an appointment.
My 7-year-old is having trouble reading. I also notice that he reverses letters and numbers when writing. Does he have dyslexia?
It is not uncommon for young children to reverse letters or numbers. However, it is something that should be evaluated by an optometrist. Certain visual disorders may cause difficulty with reading and other subjects. Some of these disorders include:
Saccadic eye movement disorders
Problems with eye-tracking
Poor visual perception
Visual processing disorders
Please contact our office to schedule an eye exam if you or your child’s teachers are noticing any of these problems.
Are Contact Lenses a Good Choice for Kids?
"When is my child old enough to wear contact lenses?”
This is a common question that many parents ask. Your child’s eyes can tolerate contact lenses at a very young age. Some babies are fitted with contact lenses due to eye conditions that are present at birth. A recent study involved fitting nearsighted children ages 8-11with daily disposable contact lenses. 90% of those children had no problems applying or removing the lenses without assistance from their parents.
The important question is whether or not your child is mature enough to insert, remove, and care for their contact lenses. How they handle responsibilities at home will give you a clue as to whether or not they are ready for such a responsibility. If your child has poor grooming habits and needs frequent reminders to perform daily chores, they may not be ready to wear and care for their lenses. However, if they are conscientious and responsible, they may be excellent candidates for contact lens wear, regardless of age.
Contact lenses offer several advantages over glasses for sporting activities:
They do not fog
They do not get streaked with perspiration
They do not get knocked off the face
They provide better peripheral vision than glasses
They can be ordered with special tints to increase visualization of the ball
Many children do not like the way that they look in glasses. They become overly self-conscious about their appearance, so contact lenses can increase your child’s self-esteem. Wearing contact lenses can often elevate how children feel about themselves. In some instances, school participation and participation in social activities also improve after the switch from glasses to contacts.
Glasses are Still Required
Even if your child chooses to wear contact lenses, up-to-date glasses are still needed. If contacts are worn on a daily basis, they need to be removed for at least an hour before bedtime to allow oxygen to reach the eyes. Any discomfort, redness, or infection warrants removal of contacts until the eye has improved. During these times, it is important to have a pair of glasses that can be worn in the place of the contact lenses.
Don’t Push Contact Lenses on Your Kids
The most important factor in determining contact lens success is the child’s motivation, not the parents’. Even though you, as parents, wear contact lenses and love them, it does not mean that they are the correct choice for your child. Some children like wearing glasses.
Often, it is a matter of timing. A child may feel they do not want contacts at an exam, but a year or two later, they do. We can usually tell during the examination if they really want to wear contact lenses, and we will respect their decision-and you should too.
When Your Child is Ready to Try Contacts
When you and your child decide it is time to begin wearing contact lenses, call our office to schedule a contact lens examination.