Pediatric Eye Exams (Pediatric Eye Doctor in Mississippi)

– Welcome, everyone. It’s a pleasure to
introduce Dr. Megan Lott, the founder and principal optometrist at Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care. Thanks for joining us, Dr. Lott. – Thank you so much for having me. – That’s wonderful. Could you tell us why is it so important for children to have an eye exam? – It’s important for
children to have an eye exam because many times a child cannot tell you if they can see clearly or not because they don’t know what clear may be. It’s also very important because there are childhood diseases like Amblyopia. Amblyopia is often termed a lazy eye, when a child doesn’t
see well out of one eye. And to a parent, their eyes look straight. They appear to be seeing fine. They can see small detail, maybe like their other children, but they’re only using one eye and there’s way to know
that or to detect it except an eye exam. – And what are some of the other problems that you can pick up from an eye exam? – In early years, the main
things that we’re looking for Are their eyes aligned, And are they seeing equally
between the two eyes So we’re really looking
closely for strabismus or cross eyes, and amblyopia or lazy eyes. We’re also looking for
extreme prescriptions. Are they extremely
farsighted or nearsighted? Is this something that
we can maybe take care of or prevent from worsening as they mature into childhood, adolescence,
or even adult years. – How is a paediatric eye exam different from a regular eye exam? – It really isn’t. We look for all the same things that we look for in an adult. We just have different methods of going about getting that information. The only thing that’s
different in my opinion is a paediatric eye exam’s a lot more fun than an adult eye exam. – That sounds awesome. So tell me about how do you keep the child’s attention for an eye exam? – You have to be quick and have to keep things very interactive. So we have lots of toys, lots of fixation targets that light up, or they spin, or they
make noise, or they move, and overall it requires me usually to have to be really silly to keep them engaged and
keep their attention. – It sounds like a lot of fun. What age does my child have to be to have an eye exam? – They can have an eye exam at any age. The American Optometric Association recommends that a child’s first exam be between six months
and 12 months of age. That often comes to a
surprise to many parents because they think, well my
child can’t read letters, they can’t talk, how are
you gonna do an eye exam? And actually it’s a lot
easier on an infant sometimes than it even is a toddler
or a school-aged child. So we’re looking for the same things. We’re looking for fixation, eye alignment, equal prescription, and believe it or not we can even detect if a
child needs glasses or not, just by doing an eye exam, and they don’t have to read an eye chart. So we have lots of other methods to check vision and acuity and check their eye health, and they don’t have to say a word. – So if my child’s seeing okay, can they still have an eye problem? – Absolutely. One thing that we utilise
often in our office is called a COVD checklist, a Quality of Life checklist. It’s a 19 item questionnaire. You can find it on our website. You can find it on our Facebook page. We utilise this very, very often. Many, many of our children that we see actually have 20/20 visual
acuity, believe it or not, and the majority of our children probably do, I’d be safe to say, but sometimes these children have problems with maybe tracking,
maybe fusing, focusing, visual perception or
information processing, Visual tracking is one of
the number one problems of poor readers, and so that’s something that we see a lot here in our clinic is my child doesn’t like to read, their reading comprehension is down. They skip, skip words or lose their place. Often they have to use
their finger or a ruler. Usually those are eye tracking issues. And a child with 20/20 vision absolutely can have problems tracking. – The ability to bring
those images together, that’s really important when it comes, when it comes to reading
and concentrating? – Absolutely it’s
important, because you have to be able to track
along your line of text, and then whenever you get to the end of the line of text,
you have to sweep back to the beginning again and
start the process back over. If your eyes can’t do
those quick movements from word to word and
they lose their place or they have to go back
and pick up a word, they maybe read a word backwards, they may skip a word, they
may mispronounce a word. And once you lose your place, the sentence that you’re reading, it doesn’t make sense. And so that’s where reading comprehension really takes a hard hit there. – So it’s almost like karaoke with the ball bouncing
from one word to the next. You’ve got to be able to track the ball. – It’s funny that you say that because we utilise a
system here in our office called RightEye, and what it is is a computer, and a child is reading and they have no idea
that their eye movements are actually being recorded. And so we give them an
age appropriate paragraph, and then once they have read it we can give a printout to the parents and we can actually go
back and watch a replay and that’s exactly what it looks like, is a little ball that is
bouncing over the words and parents are astonished
whenever they see that their child isn’t
reading from left to right, they’re bouncing from
the top to the bottom and you can see when
they lose their place, and it’s a really eye opening device that gives a real-time picture
of how a child’s reading. – That sounds incredible to gather and actually watch that back and see how my child’s doing. – It really is a neat device that we utilise often here. – And it’s another way that you check eyes without the child even really realising that you’re checking them. – Absolutely, and that’s
our main goal here, is we do lots of activities
and lots of games where a lot of my exam is
just observing the child and their behaviour and their mannerisms, and I’m trying to pick up on some details. Do they tilt their head whenever I give them something to read, or do they close one eye or do they tend to cover
an eye with their hand? Are they turning their body towards me? How do they look when they’re
walking down the hallway? And really just looking
at their mannerisms, their behaviour, and
seeing how they interact with the world, because
ultimately that’s all vision is, is just interpretation of space, and I want to see how they’re
interacting with that. – It sounds like you really
get to know the child and put yourself in their shoes, in his or her shoes. – Absolutely, and not only the child but the mothers too, or the parents. Many times parents bring their child in and they know they have have a very, very, very intelligent child but they are just devastated because they say their
child’s struggling at school and their child’s
self-confidence becomes affected and it just puts a lot of
stress on a child’s life, and no parents want to see their child not succeed in school, or much
less just not enjoy school. So absolutely, from a mom’s standpoint, I understand where the
parents are coming from and I try to put myself
also in the parent’s shoes, and what I want best for my own child. – What are some of the
things that you can learn from testing my child’s eyes? – A couple of things that I can learn is how they interact in space. Are they very clumsy, because to them their visual world is not in an orderly
fashion that you may think. How do they actually track? Like we were talking
about reading earlier. When they are actively reading, where are their eyes actually going? Can they comprehend what they’re reading? Can they focus up close? And not only can they focus up close but can they do it for an
extended period of time? When a child comes in we
have three different types of eye exams for children. The first being a basic
comprehensive eye exam, and what we’re doing
is seeing if the child needs glasses and are their eyes healthy. The next exam we have is what we call our functional or our
binocular visual exam. That’s going a little bit more in depth. That’s where we are looking at tracking, focusing, fusing, fixation. We’re going a little bit more there. That exam takes about an hour and a half. Then, according to what
we get on that exam and the results there,
we may bring a child back for visual perceptual testing. And visual perception’s a
term that’s used widely, but when we do our
visual perceptions test, and we’re actually looking
for about a dozen skills in visual, possible visual
perceptual problems. And can a child understand the material that’s place in front of them? How are they actually processing that in the visual centres of the brain? So that’s where we’re really
getting into a child’s head and seeing what it is they’re seeing. So depending on what exam is needed, that’s what we schedule for and that’s really where we put our target. So we focus our exams on
what the child’s needing, their needs, and where
they’re have difficulties. – As well as confidence at school, there’s also other
connections between eyes and performance in sport as well? – Absolutely. Here at Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care we do offer sports vision training, and essentially it’s
the same vision therapy that we do many times with
a lot of our students, just in a much larger setting. A lot more movement, a
lot more quicker pace, and really working on
that eye-hand connection, the reaction time, the tracking, back to tracking again, in some sports, depending on the sport that’s needed. – So sometimes the therapy that they get for just helping them in school can also benefit them if
they’re playing baseball or another sport? – Absolutely, if they have a
hard time tracking the ball, if they have problems
with depth perception, a fly ball in baseball might be impossible for them to get. If they’re having a problem
looking from near to far, playing basketball, having to catch a ball and immediately go back for a shot. Looking at a goal that’s 20 feet away might be an issue. So many, many sports, absolutely, can be benefited by vision therapy. – And how long is that
initial examination? – The basic comprehensive examination is probably about 45 minutes to an hour. A binocular examination or a
functional vision examination probably will last about
an hour and a half, and then the perceptual evaluation, usually around two hours for that one. – And because they’re
split up on different days, that gives, my child could
be fresh when they come in and see you again. – Yes, absolutely, and we
really do like to see children in the mornings if possible. If they come in after a school day when they’ve been exhausted and they’ve had a lot of
near point activities, we don’t always get the best results. So many times we do want a child to be fresh for their exam so they’re not, their visual system hasn’t already been fatigued that day. – So when my child comes
for an appointment, will you put drops in their eyes? – It depends on the
exam and the appointment and how the child’s doing. If it’s their first eye exam I do like to dilate a child and make sure that everything
is normal and healthy. Many of our children
have already been dilated by their primary care optometrist and then they are referred over to us for a little bit more extensive testing. In those cases, many times I don’t dilate. Ultimately if a child does present for their first eye examination, but maybe they’re a little apprehensive or they’re a little nervous, sometimes I’ll just
reschedule that dilation for maybe a week or two later once I’ve developed a little bit more of a, the child’s a little
bit more comfortable around me and coming into the office. So I don’t want to scare
’em on the first visit with eye drops if they seem to already be apprehensive. So in our examinations,
a lot of times I try to let the child guide
me into their examination and at what point we do next, and what section they want to do next, and I kinda just feed
off of the child that way and keep them in their comfort zone. All right, whenever you get to the exam, typically one of my assistants will take the child back and they’ll go on and start testing the child and playing some games and getting them warmed up. That gives me an opportunity
to talk to the parents without the child being present, and gives them information
on why they’re here, what are their concerns? How is the child performing in school? And then whenever I’m
ready to evaluate the child I typically do that without
the parents present. The reason is is because children
will interact much better. They’re not as self-conscious. They can have more fun. I can be silly, and we can
just have a really good time. By doing that I’m able
to get the information that I need from the
exams without the parents having an input or the child
trying to please the parents and really able to get the
child involved and engaged. Every parent knows that children typically act better for others than they do for them. That’s the case here with us as well. Usually a child is fantastic whenever we’re one-on-one with the child. As soon as the parent enters, sometimes there ends up,
you know, being difficulty and a little bit harder
time getting the information that I need to feel
confident in a diagnosis. – What if I feel like my child is going to come to the eye exam and try and fail it on purpose just because they want to wear glasses? – Oh, we see it all the time. It’s nothing to worry about. We have special glasses that we use that we can help detect if a
child’s just wanting glasses. By some of the devices that we use actually measure a child’s
eye and their vision, we know. A parent can be totally at ease if they feel like that’s the case. We have many, many ways around that. It’s nothing to worry about. We see it often and feel very confident usually in our results that we get, so that’s not a problem. – Do you get asked for notes to give back to the teacher to excuse the student? – Oh, absolutely. We’ll give a school excuse, and not only that, whenever
we do a functional vision exam we write a report back to
either the referring doctor, for the parents to have,
for the paediatricians or other therapists, or anyone else who might be active in this child’s life. And if needed, we always send
recommendations to the school, how a school may further
accommodate this child if they do have visual deficits. – Sure, that sounds really helpful to be able to give the
child a really good leg up at school and get the help they need. – Absolutely, so anything we can do to see these children succeed, that’s our main goal here at
Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care. – It sounds like they’re willing to go out and explore their world more. – Yes, absolutely, absolutely. – So if my child has an eye exam at Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care, what are some of the outcomes that I can have from that exam? – Absolutely, so we partner
with many other therapies, and so we may be referring for auditory, we may be referring for
occupational, physical therapies, speech therapy, and so we’re
looking at a child as a whole and not just their visual system. Of course we’re looking
at their visual system, so we may or may not recommend glasses. Even if the child’s 20/20
they may still benefit from having glasses, usually
particularly at near point. So we may still prescribe glasses. We only carry paediatric glasses here at Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care. So if your child need’s glasses, we can take care of that here. We also offer vision therapy. We are one of the only sights
in Mississippi currently that has vision therapy
here in our clinic. We offer it here at the
Hattiesburg location as well as our Jackson location. And so we do vision therapy. Typically it’s performed once a week for about 45 minute sessions. If a child needs further, we also offer syntonics
here at our office. We have many cutting edge technologies. We just try to have a really good time while getting the results
that we want here. – And you just recently added some more 3D vision therapy? – We did, we recently
added the Vivid Vision. It’s gonna be, it’s the state of the art right for now amblyopia and strabismus, and so that’s lazy eye and cross eyes. And instead of the antiquated eye-patching which I really don’t
like, children don’t like, parents don’t like. This is giving a chance,
giving a child a chance to see in 3D, to be interactive, and it really has a wow factor that a child enjoys doing that activity and it yields fantastic results. – It sounds like a fun
way to do the therapy. Every child wants to get a smile or a high five from Dr. Lott. – Exactly, and I want to get
a high five from them too. That tells me that I’ve
done a great job that day. – That sounds great. And tell me, what are some of the comments that patients give you,
that their parents give you about how their child’s grown and changed after having an eye exam? – One of the things that we see when a child finishes therapy, often from parents, is
that their self-confidence has improved significantly. They have less anxiety. They seem to be less
stressed about school. They enjoy reading. They are voluntarily picking up books without being prompted to read. That’s probably my
favourite, when they’re, whenever they want to pick up a book, they’re more active in sports, they’re more willing to try new things and to get engaged. – What forms do I need to fill in beforehand, before coming
to the appointment? – Typically whenever you come, when you make that first
initial phone call, our office manager’ll talk to you about your reason for your visit. If you’re need a comprehensive exam or if you’re needing a full
functional visual exam. Depend on what you need, we’ll
get you the correct forms and we’ll shoot it over
to your by an email. Usually we’ll want a basic history form. On a paediatric, we do want
a little bit more information on how a child’s performing in school and a little bit more
developmental information. And if they are school-aged we do like to get that COVD quality of
life checklist that I mentioned, the 19 questions, and it gives us an idea on how many, kinda what
we need to look for, be gauging our exam around. – And they form almost like a baseline for my child as well? – Yes, absolutely. So what we do on the checklist is once that checklist is completed we are looking for what
the total score is. If the child needs glasses, if the child needs vision therapy, whatever the child may need, whenever, if they require a followup, at that followup, we have the parents and the child complete
that same checklist again, and we are looking for our results from our therapies to help
those symptoms decrease. Because overall, it’s not what
I find in the examination, it’s am I improving that quality of life in that child or in that family. And that’s what we’re looking for. So we really gauge our success of our treatments and our
therapy on that checklist. – And do you take any insurance as well? – We currently only accept
Medicaid at this time. In Mississippi, that’ll
cover the examination and glasses if needed, but it unfortunately
won’t cover vision therapy at this time, but we want to make sure that every child can at
least have an examination and glasses, and get them
in the correct prescription. – How do I go about
booking an appointment? – We have a lot of different ways you can get in touch with us. The first thing you can do is
call our office, of course. 601-475-2020, that’s
probably always the best and the easiest. That way you get to talk to a real person, you can get all of your
questions answered. We can information that we need and we can immediately get
you an appointment made that suits your time and your lifestyle. The other ways, you can text our office to request a callback. It’s the same phone number, 601-475-2020. Feel free to text any time. You can send an email to We’ll call you or email you back, whatever’s more convenient. And you can actually request
an appointment online too, right from our website. There’s a little button that
says request appointment and the same thing, you fill out a form and we can either call or email you back. And of course you can
always reach us on Facebook. Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care
is the name you’ll search for. Send us a message and we’ll do our best to get back to you and get
you an appointment booked. – Yeah, fantastic. Well, we look forward to seeing you for an appointment and seeing how you can improve my
child’s quality of life. – I would love to. I’d be absolutely delighted.

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