High fives or hugs at the end of a visit are the highlight of each day for Sarah Logan, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist who works with kids from St. Johns County. We compiled some of your kiddo eye questions and asked Dr. Logan to put them into focus.
When should I have my child’s eyes checked for the first time?
“Unless you have any concerns, you can wait on a full eye exam until your child is starting school. However, if you or your pediatrician notice things like your child’s eyes drifting or crossing, excessive eye rubbing, squinting or holding items close all the time, you should schedule an exam.”
What can I expect at my child’s first eye exam?
“Your child will get a complete vision assessment that examines the health of the entire eye structure, such as development, muscle movement, and alignment. We’ll usually dilate their eyes with drops – and kids usually don’t like the drops. But, we give them sunglasses and they like those.”
What is the difference between the eye exam my child gets at school and going to an ophthalmologist?
“School eye exams are helpful for basic vision screenings and checking the external parts of the eye. In addition to a complete vision and alignment assessment, an eye professional examines the health of the internal eye structures, like the optic nerve and retina. They may write eyeglass prescriptions or prescribe additional treatment if needed.”
What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?
“An ophthalmologist is a physician who has completed college, four years of medical school, and at least four more years of training dedicated to medical and surgical management of eye disease. They are licensed to practice medicine, prescribe all medications, and perform surgery. All Nemours ophthalmologists completed an additional year of pediatric fellowship training in the medical and surgical management of pediatric eye disease. If an infant has eye problems, they will always be referred to an ophthalmologist. An optometrist has completed college and four years of optometry school focused on comprehensive eye care. They can prescribe glasses and certain medicines, but do not perform surgery. Both Nemours optometrists completed an additional year of residency specific to pediatric eye disease management.”
You mentioned sunglasses earlier – at what age do my kids need sunglasses for this Florida sun?
“Sunglasses are good at any age. The question is whether very young children and infants will keep them on. Otherwise, make sure they have on a hat that will shade their eyes. I always tell parents that hats and sunglasses are interchangeable.”
Will looking at the TV/phone/tablet cause long-term damage to my child’s eyesight?
“There is nothing that points to screens causing long-term damage. But, it’s just not normal eye use to stare at something up close for long periods, whether it’s a screen, a book or other close work. It can cause eye strain and eye dryness.”
Is reading in dim light bad for my kid’s eyes?
“It’s not ideal. Kids can get eye strain and headaches. You also read slower in low light, so homework will take longer.”
My kids play sports! When is it appropriate for them to start wearing contacts?
“Generally in the early teens – but it’s really a family decision based on the child’s maturity level and if the child has good hygiene. Like, does your child wash his hands after using the bathroom? Eye infections can be serious. We don’t want contact lenses to become mom’s burden.”