Back to school is only a few weeks away – time to hang up the swim goggles, and dig out those eyeglasses from the bottom of the beach bag. By now, you have already been inundated with advertisement after advertisement for the best deals for back to school supplies. The one thing children will use most this school year that is missing from those ads, is clear vision. Let’s get our kids back on track with a complete back-to-school eye exam.
“I have trouble seeing far away.”
“My child sits too close to the television.”
“I can’t see the blackboard.”
“I don’t think my child’s eyes are straight.”
These are just some of the patient complaints that we hear on a daily basis in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC’s Eye Clinic. These complaints can really affect the way your child performs at school. So, give us a call, make an appointment and be sure that your child is heading into the school year with a clear view of what is ahead.
How would I know if my child needs an eye exam?
Listen to your child. If they are old enough to tell you that they are having trouble seeing,they are probably right. But kids often do not realize when they are not seeing clearly, or recognize that they are not seeing equally well from each eye. Listen to the reports from your primary care doctor or school vision screenings – they may be able to pick up things that you are not able to notice at home. Observe your child at play and in photographs. If you are uncertain if both eyes appear to be working together, let us take a look.
The eyes and brains of children are very unique. Kids easily can develop amblyopia – or a visual impairment in one or both eyes. There are various causes of amblyopia – one common cause is uncorrected high or unequal nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism in one or both eyes. Another cause is an eye that is not fully aligned with the other; a condition known as strabismus. A drooping eyelid or a cataract that blocks the vision in one eye can also cause amblyopia.
All three examples can affect the way your child’s vision develops, and can alter the way they use both eyes together, called stereovision. The earlier that we can treat these conditions, the better chance your child will have for equal vision in each eye, and the capacity to judge depth by using both eyes simultaneously.
How will my child sit through an entire eye exam? What will it be like?
At Children’s, your child will be seen at one of our two clinic locations – at Children’s Hospital’s main campus in Lawrenceville, or at Children’s Pine Center in Wexford. You will be greeted by our friendly reception staff, and then escorted to one of our examination rooms with one of our six ophthalmic technicians who will perform a preliminary exam. The technician will take a patient and family history, and perform initial parts of the eye exam, such as vision screening appropriate for your child’s age and ability. Dilating drops are then instilled into your child’s eyes to allow the physician to get a clear look into the eye, and to determine if eye glasses are needed. After a short wait in one of the playful waiting rooms, your child will be escorted back to the examination room with a pediatric ophthalmologist for an in-depth exam including a check of the ocular alignment, examination of the front and back of the eye, and a screen to see if glasses are necessary. There are toys, and videos and lots of songs included in the exam to make the experience pleasant for your child.
Children’s Pine Center is equipped with an optical shop to make finding and fitting a child with eye glasses convenient and easy. Plans to include an optical shop at Children’s Hospital are under way, and are projected to be completed in 2103, along with a new fully-equipped clinic space.
There are several reasons for decreased vision in a child, and an equal number of ways to correct that vision. Get on track this August during Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month with an eye exam for your child! Together, let’s look to a “bright” school year ahead!
For more information and to make an appointment, please visit www.chp.edu/CHP/ophthalmology.