There are four steps in our children’s comprehensive examinations.
- The standard vision exam:
- A measure of your child’s sight for distance and at a close range.
- An assessment of your child’s prescription ie. long-sighted or short-sighted
- Examination of the health of the eyes.
- The measurement of the behaviour and how robust your child’s system is:
- Depth perception
- Eye tracking (across a page and to/from the classroom board)
- Eye focusing
- Eye teaming
- Visual perceptual skills:
Your child doesn’t see with their eyes; they see with their brain. Our optometrists measure how well your child’s brain interprets signals, how many signals your child’s brain can take in at once, how well their brain can store visual information and retrieve it. Areas assessed include:
- Visual analysis (including working memory)
- Visual spatial
- Visual motor
- Visual analysis
- Attention span
- Processing speed
- Motor planning
- Body awareness
- The final area is phonological processing
This will help our optometrists to differentiate if your child has a pure visual processing difficulty, a language processing difficulty or a combination of both.
Questions about your child’s examination
Frequently asked questions about children’s vision examinations include:
Why do your optometrists need to test all that?
Simple tests such as how much of the chart your child can read is termed ‘sight’. Testing this is similar to testing how well your child can visually ‘sprint’. It’s a simple, quick skill required to function well in the classroom.
The subsequent areas test your child’s visual ‘marathon’ ability. There is so much more to your sight than simply ‘seeing clearly’. For example:
- When you look outside and say ‘it looks hot out there’, this has very little to do with your ability to see clearly. It has a lot to do with your ability to interpret the information you are seeing.
- When you cross a busy intersection, you will find yourself checking the different directions for cars several times. Again, this has very little to do with your sight, and much more to do with your ability to judge the speed of oncoming cars.
How you interpret the world around you will impact how you learn and react to the world. Our optometrists are passionate about how your child’s visual system is developing and reacting to the world of information available to them.
How will my child feel during the consultation?
Please know that we don’t expect your child to know ALL the answers and if there is anything they are uncomfortable with, we can work around this. There will be a lot of questions. Don’t worry about how your child answers them. It’s important that you allow your child to respond in their own words and their own time – there are no right or wrong answers. Your child’s natural responses give our optometrists a lot of cues.
Unsettled children are welcome to sit on parent’s laps during testing, or bring in a favourite toy. It is preferred if siblings can be brought items to entertain themselves so as to reduce distraction. Each branch has a dedicated play area for children.
Children do not necessarily know what is normal and will not always tell us. Our optometrists are highly training in coaxing out your shy, nervous child or working with your more boisterous child.
What about high needs children?
We can assess children with many of the spectrum diagnosis including ADHD, ADD, ASD, ODD, PDD, autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and other special needs. If your child has any special needs such as physical or intellectual challenges, please let us know when you make your appointment. This way, we can be prepared to make your child as comfortable as possible.
How long will the examination take?
Allow one hour for your child’s detailed consultation. This creates time for all the areas to be assessed and to discuss the results with you. We’ll do our best to run to schedule. Please assist us by arriving for your child’s appointment on time.
Will my child end up with glasses they don’t need if they give the wrong answers?
Most certainly not. Our optometrists are specially trained and very experienced in assessing children’s vision. Many of the areas are tested in different ways and clinical decisions are not made based on one single test or answer.
My child isn’t sure of their letters yet. Can you still test them?
Our optometrists have a number of fun techniques for testing your child. These can include matching shapes or numbers, or recognizing pictures. There are many objective measures that our optometrists can use as well.
When should I get my child’s eyes tested?
Most certainly book your child in to see our team if you have any concerns about turned eyes, lazy eyes or odd things your child does with their bodies or eyes during visual tasks like reading, writing or watching television.
Otherwise, we advise to have your child’s first eye examination sometime before they start their first year of formal schooling.
If my child gets glasses, will they become dependent on them or will they need them ‘forever’?
The answer to this depends very much on the cause of the vision difficulty. In the majority of cases, children often need glasses for a few short years whilst their visual system develops.
However, in cases of long-sightedness, short-sightedness, strabismus (turned-eye) or amblyopia (lazy-eye) they are likely to need glasses for the foreseeable future. Our optometrists will discuss your child’s prognosis during the examination.