What can you expect when you take your child to the ophthalmologist?
We have a team dedicated to providing your child with a comprehensive eye examination. Our eye care team is led by our pediatric ophthalmologists, Dr. Swati Agarwal and Dr. Casey Beal and our orthoptists. Orthoptists are highly skilled technologists who have specialized training in working with children and are able to analyze all types of eye muscle and movement disorders.
The first visit to the pediatric ophthalmologist is a comprehensive evaluation that will take about one and a half hours. Your visit may take longer if you need specialized testing or have complex eye problems.
It would be helpful to bring include your child’s medication list (if any) and any insurance information and cards. If your child has had previous eye surgeries, please attempt to bring prior records.
Your medical history and current medication forms will need to be filled out prior to your examination. For your convenience, these forms are also available on-line on this website.
First, we will find out a detailed history about your child and what you as a parent may have noticed. We may ask you if you have pictures that show us what you have noticed.
We will test your child’s vision through a number of techniques that allow us to test babies, preverbal children, and children able to read the eye chart. We use matching games, letter recognition and even pictures. Each eye will be checked separately, which is important because a child can function normally even if one eye has decreased vision and the other eye sees well.
Intraocular pressure will be checked to see if your child’s eye pressures are at a normal level.
We also check the muscle function of each eye and the ability of the child to use both eyes together. We check for any form of strabismus (the condition where the two eyes do not work together and allow for the brain to develop depth perception).
We evaluate the health of the front portion of the eyes, and the way the pupil reacts to light.
All new exams normally include a dilated eye exam of both eyes with eyedrops. Dilation takes 30 to 45 minutes. This important part of the exam will allow the doctor to look at the inside and back of the eyes and check the health of your child’s lens, retina and optic nerve. Dilation also helps us measure the focusing system of the eye to see if your child’s world is in proper focus. We use sophisticated instruments to determine the proper focus. We check for near sightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. We also check that both eyes are in similar focus together. If one eye is out of focus compared with the other eye, a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye) can result. When amblyopia develops, the brain chooses to use one eye more than the other, which can cause long-term vision problems in the other eye. Exercises, glasses and other types of eye therapy may be needed to retrain the brain to use the eye. In many cases, checking your child’s focus can provide important information in diagnosing and treating eye crossing problems.
After the exam, the pupils will remain dilated for several hours. This may result in some mild blurring of near vision as well as increased sensitivity to sunlight.
Others tests may also be performed on an as needed basis, depending on what the preceding parts of your examination have revealed. These include formal visual field testing, photography, high resolution scans of the back of the eye, pachymetry to check corneal thickness, and ophthalmic ultrasound.
After the examination, your pediatric ophthalmology team will discuss the results of the exam with you and answer any questions you might have!