Testing Young Children
Because young children can't always answer the optician's questions in the test room, the first eye examination for a baby or toddler has several unique components that are designed to overcome such difficulties. Also, because young children are growing rapidly, there are lots of common conditions that first appear at this age, and which it is important to treat quickly as they become harder to correct the older the child is.
One such condition is called strabismus, which most people call a squint or a turn. In this condition the eyes do not align properly, and if left untreated it can lead the patient to develop amblyopia, or a 'lazy eye', a condition that makes normal binocular vision (stereopsis) impossible. If the strabismus is treated early enough, however, it can often be corrected, which is why it is so important to test young children. Up until the age of five, a period known as the 'critical period' normal binocular vision can often be preserved with the correct treatment and sometimes it can even be returned once it has been lost. It is also important not to assume that a child without strabismus does not need testing because one in four children without any sign of a squint will nevertheless have some underlying condition that will progressively worsen without treatment.
To overcome the difficulties in testing children who are too young to answer the optician's questions, there are several tests that the optician carries out that do not rely on verbal answers. Here at Mellis Eyecare, we use the most up-to-date computer based tests to ensure that children engage fully with the eye examination, and the best healthcare outcomes are achieved.