At 6 months old
2) Why is it important to bring a child in from such a young age?
Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems.* Early identification of a child’s vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.
3) What is the difference in terms of the examination process when you are checking the eyes of young children?
We have online registration forms to speed up the process, as we know a child’s attention span is limited and pride ourselves on short wait times. Once in the examination room are taking a comprehensive look at their development using fun, fast paced activities to keep their attention. Dr. Kimball has four very active boys of his own and relates well to working with children with all different kinds of eye problems and personalities.
4) Are there any signs that parents should be looking out for that would point them to making an appointment with their optometrist?
Although often there are no signs of a vision problem, if you notice any of the following, please bring your child in immediately:
- An eye that crosses in or turns out
- Getting too close to the TV, books or computer
- Closing or squinting one or both eyes
- Difficulty seeing things
- Clumsiness or bumping into things
- Headaches, red or watery eyes after reading or school
5) Do you find that some parents can express hesitancy in bringing in young children? What causes that hesitation?
Unfortunately, many parents wait to get their children’s eye checked because they are worried that their child will be scared. Although often children may be scared before the eye exam, they quickly start having a wonderful time. Most parents tell me how happy their children are to come for their yearly exams. One mother told me she had to reschedule the appointment for a week because her 5 year old had a very bad flu. He asked every morning “Mommy, can I go to the eye doctor today?”
Parents are also worried that their children are faking that they need glasses because their friend has glasses. There is no need to worry. A doctor that specializes in pediatrics has foolproof tests to know for sure if there is a vision problem. Believe it or not, children that are “faking it” is rare. Many children notice that they can not see things in school and their teacher says, “You can’t see this? I think you need glasses.” Then the children go home and tell their mother, “Mommy, I think I need glasses”. Often the parents think that there was nothing wrong.
6) How does school play a role in this?
Quite often children go through screenings that are incomplete and miss children that have other vision related problems that can’t be screened in a school setting. Children that have vision related issues quite often struggle in school so teachers play a special role in identifying children with vision related needs.
7) Do you have issues with children that are shy or intimidated in the office, and how do you work with that?
Quite often the hesitation of the shot coming, the fingers in the mouth, drops can be overwhelming. I love kids and understand these hesitancies, I’m a big kid myself so I feel like after a short amount of time kids open up fairly quickly to me. We use cartoons to keep their attention, and have a treasure box to reward the child’s bravery.
8) Can you recall any particular story of a child that came into your office, in which you were able to detect an issue early on and therefore make a difference in that child’s eye health?
I have countless experiences but I remember one young boy in particular. He was seven at the time, very introverted, behind with his academics, and mom was quite concerned, as several specialists without success had helped him. As we went through the examination it was very apparent that this young boy had several vision related problems that had not been addressed. Once we were able to correct his vision we he had a follow up a couple months afterwards. The mother’s reaction to me when asking how her son was doing now that he had been wearing glasses. She stated, “He’s a completely different kid”. “He is very socially active, his academics had improved drastically, and overall he was much happier.” That is what I love about this profession.
9) Any further comments specific to pediatric care that parents should be aware of?
Even if you don’t think that your child has a vision problem, it is doesn’t hurt to get a complete eye exam. Health insurance may cover the cost of the exam. If your child had an exam with a pediatrician or eye doctor who wasn’t real comfortable with kids and you are concerned that the results weren’t accurate, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion with an eye doctor that specializes in pediatrics.