Parents are often concerned about finding the best pediatrician for their child, but what about finding the best pediatric optometrist? The best pediatric optometrist is an optometrist who has completed residency training in pediatric eye care.
Unlike other optometrists, residency trained pediatric optometrists complete a formal residency program with advanced training in the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric vision conditions. This specialized training uniquely qualifies them to treat children from infancy to adulthood, including complex cases.
Residency trained pediatric optometrists use testing and evaluation methods that differ from those used by optometrists who primarily care for adult patients. That's because children show considerable development, in both vision and cognitive skills from year to year. As a result, the testing and evaluation methods used to assess vision in infants is quite different from those used with children in the preschool-age range, which are quite different from those used with school-aged children. In addition, a residency trained pediatric optometrist has the training required to adapt testing and evaluation methods to the cognitive and communication abilities of the child.
In addition, a residency trained pediatric optometrist is trained on the norms of pediatric testing and evaluation results as well as pediatric vision development. Whereas a general optometrist often uses testing procedures that are better suited to adults; and compares the results of a pediatric eye exam to norms based on adults. This can lead to either a pediatric vision condition being completely overlooked or the misdiagnosis of a visual impairment. It is important to evaluate a child's visual system with consideration of both age-based and functional ability when performing testing and evaluation. Thus, adult testing and result standards are not appropriate for use with children.
As a child becomes pre-school age the testing and evaluation methods used vary, depending on age, cognitive abilities, and attention span. It is important to note that pre-school age children can often complete visual assessment procedures designed for adults, though not appropriate for children. With a general optometrist, the child's results may be viewed as abnormal because the results are based on those of a typical adult. However, these same results could be completely normal based on the child's age. This can lead an optometrist who is not trained in pediatric eye care to misdiagnose the child with a vision problem or overlook a vision problem all together.
Age and Needs-Based Care
As children reach school-age, and possess the cognitive ability, they can be tested with the same eye examination procedures that are used with adults. However, once again their results are typically lower than those of adults. That's why it is important to seek the care of a residency trained pediatric optometrist for your child. A residency trained pediatric optometrist is trained in pediatric vision development and the use of age-normed data specific to the child's age. A residency trained pediatric optometrist is also trained to use modified testing and evaluation methods that allow the child to respond in a non-verbal manner.
Parents of children with special needs often face challenges obtaining useful information about their child's visual capabilities. Standard testing isn't always effective due to limitations relating to communication, physical or cognitive abilities. A residency trained pediatric optometrist is specifically trained to adapt the testing and evaluation methods to each individual child. This is especially important for children with special needs.
Studies have shown comprehensive pediatric vision examinations are effective preventative care for children. The earlier childhood vision conditions are detected, the better the visual recovery and the long-term prognosis.
We invite you to schedule an appointment for your child with one of our residency-trained pediatric optometrists. You'll be glad you did.