A Children’s eye test is not the same as regular eye tests. Sure, all optometrists examine the retina and test for long or short sight, but when you are testing children’s eyes you need to go a lot further!
Here at Eye CU Optometrist, Darin performs a large range of extra tests in eye exams for children. These are specifically designed to look at the unique children eye problems that can affect school performance, learning and concentration.
Here’s a short list of the type of things Darin looks at in a children’s eye test…
Clear distance (Visual Acuity)
A child should be able to see distant objects clearly and sharply. This clarity is called visual acuity and is usually measured using the familiar Snellen eye chart which has letters of steadily decreasing size. Children who cannot read are assessed using shapes, so at Eye CU, we can test children of almost any age, or children with any disability. Problems with eye teaming can cause things like a lazy eye, which will affect vision also, so an infant eye exam is important even before school commences.
Change in Focus (Accommodation)
The child must be able to do two things efficiently with their focus: They have to be able to change quickly and effectively from near to distance and back again, and they also have to be able to sustain their focus on a near object like a book for a long period of time without tiring. We test both of these in a children’s eye test routinely.
The most common symptoms of an accommodation children’s vision problem include inconsistent distance or near blur, sore eyes, headaches, losing of place copying off the board and, most common of all, POOR CONCENTRATION FOR READING! Most Optometrists never do these types of tests, but a Children’s eye Test MUST include an analysis of the focus system.
Aiming the Eyes (Eye Teaming)
Another important Children’s eye Test concerns Eye coordination or teaming, which is the ability to team two eyes together, having them fixate on the same point in space with comfort and without double vision. If the eyes do not point precisely at the same object this can cause headaches, poor concentration, tiredness, confusion or, in severe cases, double vision. This is sometimes called convergence insufficiency. It also greatly affects children when they read, causing them to lose their place, misread words or skip lines
Eye Movements (Saccades and Tracking)
Eye movement control is another essential part of a paediatric exam, and it is essential for reading and ball sports, yet most Optometrists never perform this Children’s Vision Test!
There are two main types of eye movements we look at in an eye exam for children, and both require the eyes to work together as a team. The first type are the quick and accurate movements which are used, for example, when the eyes move from one word to another while reading. These are jumping movements which are called ‘saccades’.
The second type of eye movements are known as ‘tracking’ and these should be smooth and accurate. Tracking movements are used when the eyes follow a moving object such as a ball in flight or vehicles in traffic.
Children who frequently lose their place while reading, mix up words, misread words, skip lines or who have difficulty in watching the ball while playing sport may have poorly developed eye movement skills, and they can be easily helped by the right type of vision therapy.
Depth perception is another aspect of eye exams for children often overlooked. It involves the ability to determine relative distance, recognised by many as the 3D we see in TVs and at the movies. Accurate depth perception is also needed to hit a ball while playing sports, or to park a car accurately. Depth perception is easily tested in a kid eye exam at Eye CU for children’s vision problems.
Peripheral or side vision is the ability to see and interpret what is happening to the sides of our vision, while looking straight ahead. It is especially important for driving a car, but it is also key to playing a lot of sports. You may not realise that it is also an important part of reading and writing for a child, helping them to maintain their place more easily.
Another important Children’s Vision Test is eye-hand coordination, which involves the eyes and the brains directing the hands. It is very important in writing, and also in many sports, especially small ball sports like cricket and tennis.
The skill of visual memory is essential in reading, and especially in spelling. Poor visual memory skills almost always result in poor spelling, but Darin’s special vision therapy program can help children to learn spelling words quicker and more effectively.
Kid’s Vision Problems Can be Easily Helped!
There are many other visual skills that Darin routinely tests as part of an analysis of learning difficulties and children’s vision problems. The fact is, kids are NOT little adults and must not be treated that way. They are unique and developing as they grow, and so need specialised examination and a comprehensive