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|3 Signs Your Child Might Need to Visit the Eye Doctor|
You are probably very familiar with your eyesight, but your children rely on you to help them understand what’s normal and what isn’t. As they grow and learn, they will become better at expressing their vision needs, but, in the meantime, keep an eye out for the following telltale signs that it’s time to take your child to the eye doctor:
1. Age. The No. 1 sign your child should see an eye doctor is age. Most doctors recommend that you take your child for an exam at 6 months, 3 years old and before starting first grade.
2. Squinting. If your child has difficulty reading, focusing or appears to be squinting when reading or watching television, it may be time for an eye exam.
3. Signs of External Irritation. Keep an eye out for signs of external irritation, such as rubbing and itching, redness and excessive eye mucous or discharge. These may be signs your child needs to see an eye doctor.
If you child has any of the signs above or if your child is overdue for their routine eye exam, contact us to schedule an appointment.
What to Expect During a Routine Eye Exam
Routine eye exams are straightforward, quick and painless. Most doctors recommend screening your vision on an annual basis to ensure your vision prescription is up to date (or to determine you need one) and to make sure your eyes are healthy. Regular eye exams are the first line of defense against eye disorders, such as chronic dry eye, inflammation, glaucoma, age-related issues and cataracts.
During a regular visit, you can expect your optometrist to perform the following tests to determine your eye health:
Pre-Exam Tests. A technician will often perform a few basic tests before you see the doctor, including a color sensitivity test, peripheral vision test, a glaucoma (or “air puff” test) and a cover test to determine how well your eyes work together. He or she may also use an autorefractor, which automatically measures your vision prescription, to gain a ballpark understanding of your vision needs.
Pupillary Reactions. Using a light, the doctor checks your pupils’ responsiveness. Your pupils’ response to light is a natural function of the eye and is critical to your vision. While using the light, the doctor will also look at the surface of your eye for signs of dry eye, corneal scratches and bacterial debris.
Slit Lamp Test. During a slit light test (also called a biomicroscope), the doctor will shine a vertical bar of light into your eye to magnify your eye’s surface and inspect for abnormalities on the cornea, iris and lens. This test usually takes a few minutes, and you may be asked to blink or stare at your doctor’s ear so he can look closely at your eye’s surface.
Visual Acuity and Refraction. The most well-known part of the eye exam is the visual acuity test. Your doctor will ask you to read an eye chart filled with numbers and letters with one or both eyes. Your ability to clearly read and identify the numbers and letters helps the doctor further determine your vision prescription needs. To hone in on your exact prescription, your doctor will place a large lens refractor in front of you and ask you a series of questions about which lenses make your vision better or worse.
Pupil Dilation. At the end of your exam, the doctor may ask you if you would like to have your eyes dilated. By dilating your eyes, the doctor can examine your retina and optic nerve more fully. To perform this part of the exam, the doctor will put a few drops in your eyes that cause your pupils to enlarge, letting more light in and giving him or her a better view into your eye. Your eyes may be sensitive to light for up to an hour after the test, so it’s best to avoid being outside in direct sunlight afterward.
Fred Farias III, OD, FAAO
Dr. Fred Farias III is certified as a therapeutic optometrist and an optometric glaucoma specialist. He has been in private practice in McAllen, Texas for over 30 years and has received the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Small Business of The Year Award. Dr. Farias earned Fellowship in American Academy of Optometry and is currently the only optometrist in the Rio Grande Valley to hold this distinction.
He has served as President of The Texas Optometric Association in 2014-2015. Dr. Farias was appointed by the Governor to the Texas State Board of Optometry and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
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