Eye Exams For Children with Special Needs
Vision and perception problems have a higher incidence rate among children with special needs than the average population. If undiagnosed or untreated, visual dysfunction will only add to the child’s challenges and affect their behavior, interfering with reading and learning, and reducing their ability to perform routine tasks.
The vision disorders typically affecting kids with special needs include nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (presbyopia), as well as other eye-coordination disorders such as eye turns (strabismus), eye movement dysfunction, “lazy eye” (amblyopia), and poor eye teaming and coordination. This can cause the child to experience a distorted sense of what he or she is viewing, difficulty with depth perception and other visual information-processing problems.
Specialized eye exams for kids with disabilities are critical, as they may diagnose problems that can be treated to improve the child’s quality of life. At Optometric Associates, children with special needs can feel comfortable and cared for by our doctors. We pride ourselves on conducting effective and accurate exams for such children.
Symptoms of Undetected Vision Problems in Children
Special needs children with undiagnosed vision problems have certain telltale signs and symptoms. These include:
- Omitting or repeating lines when reading
- Poor reading comprehension
- Homework requiring more time than it should
- Reduced visual attention
- Difficulty completing assignments on time
- Difficulty copying information from the board
- Tilting head/closing one eye while reading
- Having one eye that turns in or out
- Avoiding near work
- Unable to listen and look at a person simultaneously
- Regularly knocking things over
- Having motion sickness
- Visual perceptual problems
If your child displays any of these symptoms, an undetected yet treatable vision problem may be the cause.
Autism & Vision
According to a 2014 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 in every 68 kids in the U.S. is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Vision conditions, such as trouble with focusing, eye teaming and general problems with perception, are common in people with autism. In general, kids with autism will find it hard to make eye contact and recognize facial expressions, and they’ll feel stress when others gaze directly at them. However, the effects of ASD on vision are highly individual.
Cerebral Palsy & Vision
The most common pediatric disability, cerebral palsy is described as a non-progressive motor disorder that results from damage to neurologic brain pathways. A range of cognitive and motor disabilities are associated with this disorder, many of which have negative effects on the visual system. Both neurological issues and ocular issues may be to blame for visual impairments, and a skilled eye doctor will be able to diagnose the root of many eyesight problems during an eye exam designed for patients with cerebral palsy.
Common diagnoses include blurred vision, trouble focusing, inability to recognize faces and strabismus (eye misalignment). Vision aids and correction eyewear are frequently prescribed, and a number of specially designed eyeglasses for cerebral palsy are available, with adjustable nose-pads and arms that provide non-slip wear with a good fit.
Down Syndrome & Vision
This condition affects children around the globe and is the most common chromosomal abnormality. Common eye disorders detected in children with Down Syndrome include strabismus, tear duct abnormalities, keratoconus (misshaped cornea) and congenital cataracts. Specialized eye exams for kids with Down Syndrome can drastically improve quality of life, as they allow eye doctors to identify vision difficulties early and recommend helpful, corrective treatments. Eyewear for Down Syndrome includes designs that accommodate unique facial features, such as a low nasal bridge and modified temples that help keep eyeglasses snug and comfortable over the ears. Kids’ eyeglasses will be constructed from flexible, resilient materials that stand up to tough use!
Eye Exams for Nonverbal Patients
While many parents may be concerned about how vision will be tested accurately when their child can’t communicate properly, this shouldn’t be reason for worry. Qualified eye care professionals know how to perform effective eye exams for nonverbal patients too. Vision tests and evaluations are adapted according to the level of verbal responsiveness. In addition to customized procedures, an upbeat, compassionate and patient manner must be applied when dealing with all special needs children – especially with nonverbal patients.