When Must A Child's Eyes Be Dilated?

Dr. Jim Martin 08/15/2016

teen-having-eye-exam.pngThe fact that one in every four school-age children are affected by vision problems underscores the importance of scheduling regular eye exams for your child. It's understandable that you'll have many questions about what the exam entails, especially if it's your child's first exam, including whether the child's eyes will be dilated.

When Should I Schedule An Eye Exam For My Child?

Children should have their first comprehensive eye exam by an eye care doctor at six months, at 3-years-old, before he or she begins first grade, and every year afterwards unless otherwise recommended.

Why Must Their Eyes Be Dilated?

Studies show that it's impossible to view more than 15% of the back and inside of the child's eye without first dilating the pupil. Dilating eye drops allow for a thorough, clear viewing of the inside of the eye. This is significant in helping your eye doctor detect common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. After allowing about 25 minutes for the drops to work, your doctor will use an ophthalmoscope to see the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye. This is where signs of many eye diseases first show up.

Eye drops are also essential for non-verbal and young children who cannot clearly describe vision problems they're experiencing, or even unaware that they're having problems.

How Are The Drops Applied?

In most cases, drops are applied quickly into the eyes after the child leans his or her head back. The excess is dried off, and the child returns to the waiting room while they wait for the drops to work.

How Will Drops Affect The Child?

The pupils will remain dilated (larger) for several hours after the examination; in rare cases, this effect may last into the next day. The child's vision may be blurred for a few hours but, again, rarely the next day. The effects are usually very minor for most children, although there may be a slight sensitivity to bright light. Disposable sunglasses are usually given to children who will play outside that same day.

Schedule your child's next eye exam with Broome Optical.

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