All children should begin having vision screenings in early childhood, both at their pediatrician's office and at school. These vision screenings may consist of taking a picture of the eyes or having your child read a chart of pictures or letters. If your child does not pass their vision screening, it will be recommended that you bring them in for a complete eye exam.
When you first get to the Eye Center of Northern Colorado, you will be greeted by our team at the front desk who will complete the check-in process and get any pertinent insurance information. They may have you fill out some information about health and family history as well.
As soon as you are checked in a member of our pediatric care team, often one of our highly trained technicians will call you back to an exam room to begin the initial part of the examination. This part of the exam will focus on checking vision and an examination of binocular vision and eye alignment (the sensorimotor exam).
Our pediatric care technicians are experienced with kids of all ages and developmental levels. We use toys, singing, movies, and games to make this part of the exam fun and engaging. Each visit can almost guarantee a cameo by a singing Elmo doll. If your child has strabismus, you may meet one of our orthoptists at this point, they will measure the strabismus and may ask a few more questions.
The next step is eye drops to dilate the eyes. We all know that eye drops can be scary and this is usually the hardest part of the exam for most kids, but our pediatric care team tries to make it as quick and easy as possible. We are careful to never tell children that the drops don't hurt because they do sting for a few seconds and we don't want to mislead them or lose their trust. We often tell kids something like, "These may sting, just for a couple seconds, kind of like when you get pool water in your eyes."
The eye drops have to work for 20-30 minutes before we can then check the refractive error (need for glasses) and for our pediatric ophthalmologist and/or pediatric optometrist to examine the health of the back of the eye. This part is pretty easy and only requires flashlights and lenses.
For a full eye exam, expect to be at our offices for 1.5-2 hours. We know that's a long day, but we try to make it as smooth as we can. All our exam room have movies to watch and we have toys and books in the pediatric waiting rooms. We encourage bringing your own tablets, toys, and stuffies to help!
Eye muscle surgery can be performed as young as 6 months old when indicated to help restore binocular vision and promote good vision development. At your child's pre-operative appointment, measurements will be taken to determine how much surgery to do and on which eye muscles. Eye muscle surgery is always under general anesthesia, under the care and direction of an experienced pediatric anesthesiologist. The surgery typically takes an hour or less and may require one or two small, dissolvable sutures on the white part of the eye.There are few restrictions following eye muscle surgery. We want to try to keep the eye clean and dry, so there is no swimming for two weeks.
We also encourage trying to keep out of extra dirty or dusty areas like sandboxes. No patches are required following eye muscle surgery.
We will prescribe a drop or ointment to use a few times per day for 1-2 weeks following surgery to prevent any infection and help keep the eye comfortable.
The white part of the eye is often very red following eye muscle surgery. In children, this often clears up fairly quickly, although it can persist for up to two weeks. There is very minimal scarring on the white part of the eye following eye muscle surgery, usually only visible under a microscope.
Children often have very little pain or discomfort following eye muscle surgery. Children are often back to themselves the same day or the next morning. It is not uncommon for them to rest and keep their eyes closed the day of surgery, but be back to normal the next day.
With any surgery, there are risks. But the risks of eye muscle surgery are fairly low. Risk of vision loss and infection are extremely uncommon. The biggest risk is under or over correction of the strabismus (eye misalignment), and this can often be addressed with glasses, prism, or repeat surgery if needed.