Early eye exams are important because they ensure healthy vision development. Eye exams at tender age help in identification of the toddler’s vision problems which if left untreated, some problems could cause permanent loss of eyesight. These checkups also ensure good performance in school since bad eyesight can result in poor performance in school.
A toddler should see an eye doctor in the first year of birth. In the first year, a baby should visit an eye doctor three times in a year. A comprehensive examination is carried out at six months of age. After the first year, the toddler should visit an eye doctor after every two years if no vision correction is necessary until the age of 18 years. Toddlers from families with a history of eye problems or those that complications that may affect vision occurred during pregnancy or at birth should visit an eye doctor more often and need more comprehensive examinations. Most times, children may not be required to visit a professional eye doctor since pediatricians carry out these tests during checkups and vaccination times. Eye checkups are also done in some schools annually.
During the eye examination, a penlight is used to torch the toddler’s eye to check for the pupil and eye alignment. A special scope is also used to check for abnormalities at the back of the eye. Toddlers are also asked to read letters or images from a chart. These letters or images test near vision, distance vision, eye teaming (binocularity) skills, eye movement skills, focusing skills, peripheral awareness and eye/hand coordination. VAD is clinically checked through checking the ability to form images in low light conditions, which could be an indicator for night blindness.
The examination also tests for refractive disorders, strabismus which is eye misalignment and amblyopia (Decreased vision which could be in one or both eyes) that are often called lazy eye it is often hard to detect and can be corrected using an eye patch, eye drops or glasses. Examples of refractive disorders are nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. If the eye examination reveals a potential problem, the toddler should visit an ophthalmologist or an optometrist who have more experience with children and for more detailed review.
Possible surgery can fix other vision problems or contact lens wear. Eye vitamins or eye supplements can help correct vision problems at times. Toddlers who have undergone vitrectomy or previous laser eye surgery should adhere to strict eye checkups for potential complications such as Cataracts or infection.
It is important to see an eye specialist upon detection of the following:
• If the toddler is frequently rubbing eyes
• Blinking excessively
• Failure to maintain an eye contact
• Inability to focus on objects in the surrounding
• Production of excessive tears
• Noticeable eye inflammation
Eye screening does not substitute for an eye checkup. An eye checkup is more comprehensive and puts to use most if not all important diagnostic mechanisms into use, thereby giving better and reliable results.
Most regulations recommend annual eye checkups and should not exceed two years. Parents and caregivers should watch out for various signs and symptoms.