Pediatric Comprehensive Eye Exams are Important. They Even Save Lives!
Pediatric comprehensive eye exams are important. But what makes them so important? A comprehensive eye exam saved an eight-year-old girl’s life after it detected a tumor was pressing on her optic nerve. Ruby Mosqueda’s story highlights how critical yearly comprehensive eye exams can be. The former President of the American Optometric Association (AOA), Dr. Andrea Thau, joined Ruby and her mother, Maria Garcia. They spoke to EverydayFamily’s Shiloh Johnson to tell us more. See the full interview here.
Dr. Thau explained, “It’s estimated that 1-in-4 children have a vision problem. Most of these problems are undetected. Vision screenings fail to uncover many problems and provide appropriate treatment. This is why a comprehensive eye exam with your doctor of optometry is critically important.”
Children are not born with their vision system fully developed. It has to develop over time. We need to check a child’s eyes thoroughly at regular intervals over time to make sure development is occurring appropriately. Vision development impacts social development, motor development, intellectual development, and academic performance. Dr. Thau stated, “We want to ensure that America’s children have the best vision that they can and, therefore, they are poised to succeed in school and life beyond.”
So, what are the new guidelines?
The AOA has developed a new clinical practice guideline for pediatrics. In it, there are recommendations for the frequency that a child should receive comprehensive eye exams. According to the guidelines, the first comprehensive eye examination should be in the first year of life, between 6 to 12 months of age. Next should be between the ages of 3- and 5-years old. And finally, they should be scheduled annually during school years. This will ensure you are keeping pace with your child’s visual development.
Children with vision problems may misbehave in school and experience difficulty reading or academic problems. By regularly treating vision problems, you can help your kids succeed in school and life. Comprehensive eye exams can even save lives, as Ruby's story shows us.
First of all, Ruby was born premature and has been going to the optometrist regularly since she was three-months-old. At the age of eight, Ruby was experiencing excruciating headaches that perplexed her physicians. They thought the problem was migraines, and she was medicated for migraines. But that didn’t help because it wasn’t what was really going on. The headaches increased in severity. She would wake up at night crying and screaming.
Then her mother, Maria Garcia, took Ruby to an optometrist for her regular comprehensive eye exam, and they discovered the cause of her pain. The optometrist dilated Ruby’s eyes and found a brain tumor the size of a golf ball that was pressing on her optic nerve. Ruby was rushed to the ER where the non-cancerous tumor was removed. She has recovered and is stable. But they still attend screenings every three to six months to keep an eye on things. Garcia reiterated, “I cannot stress how important it was for us to see the optometrist.”
So, how can parents protect their children’s vision beyond scheduling comprehensive eye exams?
- Get your kids outdoors and playing sports. Studies show that kids who play sports outdoors tend to have better vision.
- Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: For every 20 minutes of reading/computer work, take a 20-second break by looking at something at least 20 feet away.
- Get your child good quality sunglasses to protect their eyes from UV rays.
- Schedule that comprehensive eye exam.
- Go to AOA.org and use the doctor locator to find an optometrist near you.
- If you have a baby, be sure to visit Infantsee.org to find a participating doctor of optometry who will provide a no cost vision assessment for your baby.