An Optometry Student’s Guide to Pediatric Optometry
“Pediatric optometrists have a difficult time because of how hard it is to test a child for glasses.”
“Children are too young to read the letters.”
“Children cannot stay still long enough for the doctor to evaluate their eyes.”
It’s time to bust those myths. The stigma around pediatric optometry needs to be replaced with action, starting with the community of optometrists and optometry students. You can help be a part of the solution by learning ways to get involved.
- Did you know that babies should have their first eye exam at six months old and again at three years old, assuming no issues were detected at their first infant examination?
- Did you know that 1 in 4 children are suffering from visual problems?
- Did you know that, of those children, 60% go undetected, which leads to academic difficulties and a reduction in academic potential?
- As current and future optometrists, it is our responsibility to inform and educate the people responsible for children’s visual health. Those in pediatric optometry need to work together with parents, teachers, pediatricians, and childcare providers to guarantee the best quality of vision.
There are many opportunities for us as future optometrists to get involved in pediatric optometry. Here are a few ways to get involved:
- The InfantSee program is a public health program
- designed to provide infants under 12 months of age to receive a comprehensive eye assessment at no cost. The program is designed to improve a child’s quality of life by ensuring that vision care becomes a major part of infant wellness. The Infantsee website informs optometrists and parents, as well as raises awareness in the general public.
- School screenings are another way for optometrists to effect children’s vision, as well as give back to their community. Children school screenings are a great way to do some basic vision testing and give proper advice to parents, teachers, and children.
- Mission trips, both in-town and overseas, allow optometry students and optometrists to serve a community through vision care. Pediatric and school aged children are frequently a part of these mission trips, and, for many of these patients, this will be their first eye examination. Through these trips, you can make a big impact on a patient’s life. Here is a first hand example of a SVOSH trip from the eyes of an optometry student.
If you are a student interested in pediatric optometry, I encourage you to research information about similar programs and opportunities happening in your community.
No matter what challenges optometrists face during an pediatric eye exam, the reward is well worth it. Pediatric eye exams are the gateway to improving the quality of life and academic success of the upcoming generations.