The Importance of Yearly Pediatric Eye Exams


Hello I’m Neal Howard your host here on Health Professional Radio, glad that you could join us today. Today we’re in this segment, we’re going to talk about a comprehensive eye exam that saved the life of an Atlanta girl after it detected a tumor that was pressing on her eye nerve. Now luckily that tumor was safely removed but Ruby Masqueraders story highlights just how critical a yearly eye exam can be for a child not only in protecting her eyes health issues but overall health as well. Now here to talk with us about this pediatric comprehensive eye exam is the former president of the American Optometric Association Dr. Andrea Thau along with Ruby’s mom Maria Garcia. Welcome to Health Professional Radio both of you. How are you today? We’re great thank you for having us. Yes, thank you. Just how common are these vision problems in kids, Dr. Thau? One in four children has a vision problem. So viven is such an important sense. It’s said that next to life itself is God’s greatest gift. So it’s really important to assess children’s vision on a regular basis. We’re very proud that the American Optometric Association just launched a recent clinical practice guidelines in the area of pediatrics. We provide guidelines on how frequently a child should undergo the comprehensive eye examination. The American Electric Association recommends that a child had undergo their first comprehensive eye examination with their doctor of Optometry in the first year of life between 6 and 12 months of age, again between ages 3 & 5 and then annually thereafter. And the reason for that is that you’re not going with your visual system fully developed it has to develop over time and we need to assess it on a regular basis to ensure that the vision is developing and keeping pace with the visual demand. Vision impacts all of our other developmental areas intellectual motor and social areas of development as well. We want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to achieve great things and be the best they can be. Now this new – these Pediatrics comprehensive eye exam guidelines, now they’re a far cry from what they used to be. Is it’s a huge difference from in the past? Yes. This is actually the first time that we’ve created these pediatric guidelines and what’s really remarkably different is the recommendation for how frequently a child to undergo a comprehensive eye examination with the doctor of Optometry. Unlike vision screenings which can often give parents a full sense of security and also missed problems or not allow proper follow-up, a comprehensive eye examination with your doctor of Optometry will fully evaluate vision clarity of sight, eye tracking, focusing, eye coordination, vision processing and i-health and be able to diagnose and treat the problems that are found. The eye is an amazing organ, the brain dedicates more areas to the vision and the eyes and it does to any of the other centers. And in fact we meet down in the inside of your eye you can actually see auto reconvenes. The only part of the body where they’re visible without cutting someone open. So it’s also a window into your systemic health. In 2014 my colleagues found 240,000 new cases of diabetes just by performing eye examinations and being able to see the changes in those blood vessels. But the eye also allows us to see parts of the brain, the optic nerve. The optic nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves and by looking at that we’re able to find serious neurological problems like brain tumors, aneurysms, multiple sclerosis and other problems. I think will be exploited and we highlights how doctors of Optometry have an important role to play as not only checking vision and eye health but overall health as well as primary healthcare providers. Now Maria, I know you were shocked when you found out that a simple eye exam or I guess a routine eye exam reveals something life-threatening. Tell us your daughter’s story? Yes. So we actually really started having headaches at the end of the year of 2015 and they increased in severity very rapidly. She sort of having daily headaches which we took her to the ER any parent would and we were discharged with them telling us that everything’s been fine. We went on to see different specialists and nobody could really tell us what was going on. Her IEP was coming up and we took her in and talked to the doctor I explained what was going on she sat me down, listen to me and explained what she was going to do. And what the comprehensive eye exam she found that the pressure was coming from her optic nerve. There was pressure dropping that that was caused by a brain tumor and she told that we need to go the ER which we did and I can’t imagine had we not gone. What would have happened? The surgeon told us that we could have lost her in weeks to month. And that was just very hard to take on you that a little seven-year-old. Absolutely. So and as you say if left untreated it could have been a very tragic situation. So your story really highlights the critical nature of having these routine regular eye exams for our kids. I mean she’s just seven years old and luckily she’s doing great now. Is that that correct? She is doing, she will be nine in August and she’s been fantastic and we owe that all to our Optometry doctor. That’s the thought. What advice do you have for parents who maybe have not known about the importance of eye exams or maybe getting them in frequently? Children don’t know that they have a vision problem, you can’t wait for the child to tell you that there’s a problem. To ensure that your child has the vision that they need it’s important to schedule a comprehensive eye examination with your doctor Optometry. You can get more information about this at all different areas about eyes and vision on the American Optometric Association website, aoa.org. You can also check out and find a doctor locator there where you can find a doctor in your community to bring the child to. The most important thing that you can do for your child to ensure that they will succeed in school this year it’s just an comprehensive eye examination with their doctor of Optometry. Vision is next to life itself God’s greatest gift and it’s your job and purpose to ensure that your child can achieve great things in their life. Well I thank you both for coming in this morning. Both Dr. Andrea Thau and Maria Garcia talking about the importance of having our kids eyes examined yearly. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. 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