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Children Eye Screenings and Exams . Lynn E. Lawrence, CMSgt(ret) CPOT, ABOC. Overview. Child growth and development Vision and Learning Early detection Hormones and vision School screenings and state requirements Clinic screenings and Exams Inform and educate.

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children eye screenings and exams

Children Eye Screenings and Exams

Lynn E. Lawrence, CMSgt(ret)


  • Child growth and development
  • Vision and Learning
  • Early detection
  • Hormones and vision
  • School screenings and state requirements
  • Clinic screenings and Exams
  • Inform and educate
first visits good memories
First Visits – good memories
  • Schedule extra time to allow yourself an opportunity to establish rapport with the child
  • Reassure the parents
  • As stated from the 2000 AOA clinical practice guidelines for Pediatric Vision reported that there were 72.3 million under the age of 18 (26% of the overall population) and a growth rate of 13.7%
  • Vision disorders 4th most common disability in US
  • There are approx 39,000 practicing O.D.s = 1846 children per practice
  • Only 31% of children rec’d comprehensive exams
  • Vision is developing from birth to 20, from 20-40 vision is the most stable and after 40…well 
regardless of age
Regardless of AGE
  • Considering a SOAPE Format
    • Subjective: COVD-QOL: Clinical with some validity and reliability
    • Objective: Chair Skills, DEM, Wold Sentence, Copy, Beery, Motor Free
    • Assessment: Low Areas Based on Standardized Norms
    • Plan: Lenses, Hygiene, Vision Therapies
    • Education: Signs-No Symptoms—Do Nothing?
3 things to remember
3 Things to remember
  • Each child is different
  • Each parent is different (genes)
  • Treat each child as an individual
baby facts
Baby Facts
  • The diagnosis of disease in infants and toddlers is more difficult than other patient categories, they have no idea of what good vision looks like.
  • Standard procedures (i.e. biomicroscopy, tonometry, and indirect ophthalmoscopy) are more difficult on this population
  • You must keep the exam interesting to keep fixation with this population (don’t over stimulate)
  • 2010 Public Health Assoc recommended 6 mon, 2 yrs, and 4 years (urged Pediatricians to advocate)
baby at 1 month
Baby at 1 month
  • Stares vacantly at surroundings
  • Briefly follows a moving stimulus
  • Regards examiner’s face momentarily
  • Quiets when gazes toward light of window or bright moving object
  • Fixes objects brought into visual scope
  • Eye and head movements are not synchronized
  • Hands predominantly fisted
  • Head predominantly rotated to a preferred side
2 months
2 months
  • Holds head bobbingly erect
  • Eyes follow a moving person and near object beyond the midplane
  • Vocalization other than crying
  • Lying supine, looks downward and sideward but not upward to follow retreating figure
  • Myelination of macula by 6 weeks
  • Direct regard and facial response to person’s face
  • Seeks light areas
  • Coordinate compensation eye movements well established
  • Retains rattle briefly
  • First begins to observe his hand in action
3 months
3 months
  • Lying supine, tilts head backward and rolls eyes upward to follow retreating figure
  • Eyes follow moving objects in all planes (blinking and jerky eye movements)
  • Searches for sound with eyes
  • Regards own hand spontaneously
  • Vigorous body movements
  • Anticipates feeding upon sight of bottle with activity change
  • Cooing and chuckling
4 months
4 months
  • Head rotates with increasing freedom in supine position
  • Hands engage at midline
  • Grasps pencil with both hands and holds briefly
  • Rolls from side to side but not completely over
  • Enjoys play activity
  • Eyes move in active inspection: Regards own hand, toy, surround
  • In sitting, holds head steady and set forward, looks down at table top, at own hand, and at an object
  • Fleetingly regards 7mm pellet on tabletop. Contacts it with out-stretched fingers. No grasp
  • Initiates smiling and laughs aloud.
5 months
5 months
  • Holds head erect in sitting
  • Grasps cube on contact
  • Maintains attention within area close to body
6 months
6 months
  • Begins awareness that objects and people are permanent and present even if hidden
  • Sits with minimal support with stable back and head
  • Lifts cup
  • Attempts to attain toy held beyond reach
  • Responds to image in mirror. Begins to imitate facial expressions and actions
  • Rolls over, supine to prone position
  • Localizes source of sound when bell is rung at side
  • Differentiates strangers from family
  • Babbles in more than two distinct sounds
  • Turns objects to observe them upside-down and sideways while exploring them visually
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other
  • Plays Peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
8 months
8 months
  • Begins to recognize his own image in mirror
  • Begins creeping skills forward and backward
  • Strong bilateral use of hands in approach, grasp and manipulation and in simultaneous holding of two objects
  • Aware of surround, easily distracted.
  • Watches activity around him
  • Looks for toy he has had
  • Reaches and grasps object, then visually inspects it by turning object about in hands to explore it
  • Holds one cube and manipulates another
  • Begins to pull himself up on familiar objects
  • Begins fear of strangers – fear of separation from mother/parents

Issues and Methods Additional Issues and

Area Tools Methods and Tools for 0 – 18 mos Methods for 18-36 mos

This Quick Reference Guide should be used in conjunction with AOA’s Optometric Clinical Practice Guideline on Pediatric Eye

and Vision Examination (April 25, 2002). It provides a summary and is not intended to stand alone in assisting the clinician in making patient

care decision. These recommendations include but are not limited to the areas, procedures and recommendations listed.

Professional judgment and individual symptoms, findings and developmental level may significantly influence the nature and course of the


  • 30-50% of infants (under 12 months) have significant astigmatism
  • Age 2-18 months (avg Rx 2 diopters hyperopia)
  • Children 6-9 months follow lights
    • InfantSee Program
    • Shaking Baby Syndrome (SBS)
  • Neurological problems
  • Excessive refractive error
  • Eye alignment (strabismus)
  • Early morning or after naps are most effective for exams
  • Recommend parent bring a bottle
baby 0 1 year exam frequency
Baby (0-1 year) Exam Frequency
  • First exam – 6 months or first sign of eye trouble
  • Black and white contrast
  • 1 ft is the focusing dist
  • Consider sleep schedule
  • Don’t overwhelm or over-stimulate
  • Dim room highlight target
examination table for infants
Examination Table for Infants
  • Patient/family health history
  • Developmental history
  • Family eye history
  • Visual acuity (fixation)
  • Obvious defects
  • Teller Acuity Cards
  • Auto-refraction
baby learning 1 foot
Baby Learning (1 foot)
  • Games
    • Learning
      • Learning games
      • Colors (black and white)
    • Parents
      • Eye contact (ease into)
      • Sound (not too loud)
      • Room lights on target
      • Caution with over-stimulation
  • Mobiles
    • Face down to baby
    • Baby safe mirrors
      • Crib
      • Car
      • Play area
infants sample test
Infants Sample test
  • Tracking and fixation training for infants
growth and development
Growth and Development
  • Children are not born knowing the difference between good and bad vision
  • Early Detection and Prevention is a must
  • 6 months, 3 years, and prior to starting school are the recommended intervals
top 5 milestones in vision development
Top 5 milestones in vision development

1. Focusing ability

  • Most infants can focus accurately by two to three months of age. The ability to focus requires special eye muscles to change the shape of the lens in order to form clear images. Before two months of age, an infant is capable of focusing objects both near and far, but not very well. It takes time for the eye muscles to learn how to avoid focusing "too close" or "too far away" from near or far objects.

2. Eye Coordination and Tracking

  • A baby usually develops the ability to track and follow a slow-moving object by three months of age. Before this time, an infant will follow large, slow-moving objects with jerky motions. A three-month-old can usually track an object quite smoothly. A baby should begin to follow moving objects with the eyes and reach for things at around four months of age.

3. Depth Perception

  • Depth perception is the ability to judge objects that are nearer or farther than other objects. Depth perception is not present at birth. It is not until the third to fifth month that the eyes are capable of working together to form a three-dimensional view of the world.

4. Seeing color

  • An infant's color vision is not as sensitive as an adult's. It is hard to tell if babies can distinguish colors because their eyes might be attracted by the brightness, the darkness, or the contrast of an object against its surroundings, and not by the color alone. By two to six weeks of age, however, a baby can distinguish two highly contrasted colors, such as black and white.

5. Object and face recognition

  • An infant is born with the ability to see facial features at arm's length, but is attracted instead to high-contrast borders of objects. For example, a baby will gaze at the edge of a face or the hairline when looking at a human face. By two to three months of age, a baby will begin to notice facial features, such as the nose and mouth. By three to five months, most babies can differentiate between mother's face and a stranger's face.

Source: Infant Vision Lab, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center. Milestones in Visual Development University of Massachusetts Medical School. 08 Jun 2007

pre school children
Pre-School Children
  • Have the necessary psychological development
  • Use matching task @ 6 meters
  • 3 diopter of astigmatism
  • 30-50% loses astigmatism by age 5
  • Low amts of anisometropia
  • Static retinoscopy
  • Cycloplegic retinoscopy
  • Monocular Estimation Method (MEM)
  • Color Vision Test Pease Allen Color Test (PACT), Mr. Color Test, Color Vision Made Easy,
  • Visual Acuity
    • Lea Symbols chart
    • Broken Wheel Acuity Cards
    • HOTV Test
    • Denver Developmental Screening Test (DDST)
    • Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (DTVMI)
  • Cover Test
  • Muscle-H Test
  • Near Point of Convergence (NPC)
  • Positive and negative fusional vergences
  • Accommodative amplitude and facility
  • MEM retinoscopy
  • Stereopsis
  • Versions rule out non-commitant deviation
    • Stability of fixation, saccadic movement, and pursuit function
  • AC/A and facility
examination table for children
Examination Table for Children
  • Establish rapport
  • Ask the child if the know their ABCs
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Always encourage

Broken Wheel Acuity Test

  • Most children with vision problems have accommodative or binocular anomalies
  • School performance:
    • Eyestrain, blurred vision
    • Double vision, loss of place, skipped lines, and reading defects
examination table for teens
Examination Table for Teens
  • Teens communicate
  • More conscience about looks
  • Prefer contacts
  • Fashion is a must
  • May experience growth spurts, hormones can impact vision
vision and learning
Vision and Learning
  • Give the child things that are exciting for them, things that keep their attention
  • Routine practice
hormones and vision
Hormones and Vision
  • Affects male and females alike
  • Hormones affect vision
  • Growth spurts can have a significant impact during childhood development
school screenings and s tate r equirements
School Screenings and State Requirements
  • Each state has its own set of medical requirements, you must your state requirements
  • Pediatricians perform screenings
  • American Public Health Association recommends exams at 6months, 2 and 4 yrs of age
  • Healthy People 2010 to improve national health
  • Learning Related Problems
    • Developmentally Delayed
    • Attention Deficit Disorder (Amphetamines)
  • • Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder
    • Learning Disabled
    • Fetal Alcohol (Drug) Syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum
  • Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
    • Stroke
    • Trauma
    • Shaking Baby Syndrome (SBS)
clinic screenings and exams
Clinic Screenings and Exams
  • Cover Test (not as reliable, child must participate, is a position of gaze test)
  • Hirschberg Test (most successful in children 6 months or younger)
  • Krimsky Test (prisms with Hirschberg test)
  • Bruckner Test (presence of Bruckner Reflex identifies positive for strabismus)
  • Versions (tracking a target, binocular assessment)
  • Near Point Convergence (tracking a target in toward the child)
  • Pupillary Response Test (tracking a target in toward the child)
fashion is important
Fashion is important
  • The Look
    • STYLE
    • FIT
    • Sizing
  • Peer pressure
    • First Impression
  • Affordability
    • Economy
    • Return visit
parent and child education
Parent and Child Education
  • Build your future patients understanding for the need of appropriate eye care
  • Patient’s do always know
  • Grow the industry through developing an understanding of the different “O”s
children are our future
Children Are Our Future
  • Vision And Academics: Prospective Study
  • Maples. Visual factors that significantly impact academic performance
  • Optometry 2003;74:35-49.
    • 3 year prospective study on 550 elementary school children (1,2,3—2,3,4---3,4,5 grades)
    • 6 examinations (Fall and Spring)
    • Standardized Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
    • All Visual Findings Significant In Some Area
    • Robust Predictors: Visuo-Motor, Ocular
  • Motor, Perception
    • Variance=correlation squared
psychology and rapport
Psychology and Rapport
  • Immediately get on the child’s level
  • Explain everything
  • Treat every patient with CRS
  • Don’t rush the exam… schedule more time
  • El Savador
  • -16D
  • Never seen moms face
  • Was never going to sit in a class and learn like other kids
  • Sunland Optical sent glasses free of charge
  • Vision van
  • Children are born knowing the difference with good vision
  • They need your help
  • They need your professionalism and patience
aoa recommended exam intervals
AOA Recommended Exam intervals
  • Asymptomatic
    • Birth – 24 months by 6 months
    • 2- 5 years at age 3
    • 6 – 18 years before first grade and every two years thereafter
  • At Risk children
    • By 6 months or as recommended
    • At 3 years or as recommended
    • Annually or as recommended