What is a pediatric optometrist and how are they different from other optometrists? First and foremost, it is paramount that your child starts seeing an optometrist as early as six months old. A pediatric optometrist completes a one year residency program in pediatric/binocular vision after completing optometry school. Less than 5% of all optometry students decide to specialize in pediatrics.
During this residency, the optometrist focuses on the assessment and treatment of eye movement problems such as eye turns and eye focusing problems. Many of them also do vision therapy to help improve these conditions. Because of this specialized training, the pediatric eye exam by a binocular vision specialist goes far beyond “better or worse” and identifies problems that may go undetected, but can limit academic achievement.
Even babies need to see an optometrist.
Does My Child Need a Pediatric Optometrist?
Sometimes, eye movement problems are obvious. An eye turning in or out spotted by parents should be assessed by a pediatric optometrist as sometimes treatment could be specialized glasses or contacts. If surgery is needed, we worked closely with local pediatric ophthalmologists that can perform surgery to improve these eye turns.
Other more subtle eye movement problems are not easily detected by parents but cause difficulty in school and other behaviors such as:
- Holding pages too close or too far away
- Squinting to see far or near or rubbing the eyes
- Student reads first part of a sentence well, then “ad-libs” the second part
- Does fine with orally presented material but difficulty with comprehension
- Frequent letter reversals that are not age appropriate or reverses words like “was” for “saw”
- Difficulty holding still while reading
- Avoidance of reading
- Reading below grade level
- Difficulty with catching a ball
These are all symptoms of eye movement problems that need the special assessment skills of the pediatric optometrist. Children with autism and attention problems frequently are found to have eye movement problems a much higher rate than other children. These special children require the through binocular vision exam to make sure vision is not limiting their potential.
“An eye turning in or out spotted by parents should be assessed by a pediatric optometrist as sometimes treatment could be specialized glasses or contacts.”
Binocular Vision and Adults
With the use of smart phones and computers, more adults then ever are developing eye movement problems. Some adults continue to have headaches and blurred vision even though their eyes see 20/20.