Pediatric optometry is the study and treatment of children's vision. This specialty aims to correct patient eyesight as well as to improve the visual symptoms of a number of disorders impacting ocular (eye) health. Pediatric optometrists might evaluate a child for glasses, or may assess more complex visual abnormalities.
Pediatric optometrists primarily treat patients for refractive errors. Refractive errors are correctable vision differences such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These errors can be remedied by glasses or contact lenses. Pediatric optometrists may also provide visual care for other eye disorders in collaboration with an ophthalmologist or other specialist.
These issues may include corneal or retinal disorders, cataracts, cortical visual impairment, amblyopia (lazy eye), or strabismus (misaligned eyes).
To diagnose eye conditions, pediatric optometrists conduct tests using advanced equipment suited to children's size and age. Vision tests are used to diagnose refractive errors. Vision tests measure visual acuity, or a patient's ability to identify letters or pictures from varying distances. To determine the appropriate treatment, a series of lenses are placed before a child's eye and the child communicates which lens best improves his or her eyesight. A pediatric optometrist prescribes corrective lenses after performing a vision evaluation.
Eye exams may be conducted at the same time as vision tests. Patients will receive dilating eye drops. When the patients' eyes are dilated, pediatric optometrists shine lights into them and study them with an ophthalmoscope. The lights permit pediatric optometrists to view within the eye, and to detect severe ocular conditions that would require specialized treatment.
Pediatric optometrists may collaborate with pediatric opticians, pediatric ophthalmologists, and pediatric neurologists to provide comprehensive patient care.