Patient care services are open to the public. Appointments can be made by calling (231) 591-2020.
1124 S. State Street, MCO 101A
Big Rapids MI 49307
(231) 591-3991 (fax)
Birth to 18 years of age
Although children may not be able to communicate at an adult level, there are many procedures that can be used to determine how well their visual system is functioning. Game-like activities using special figures allow the pediatric optometrist to observe visual reflexes and even communicate with infants and young children. There are also several procedures that are simple measurements of the eye and vision that do not require input from the patient.
Patient History - Information about the child's and parent's general health can provide clues about the potential risk for vision anomalies. If there is a strong history of a particular vision problem that runs in the family, more frequent examinations or special procedures may be required.
Visual Acuity - Determines how well the child sees. There are several ways to estimate the child's visual abilities. Although they are not precise for infants they are very good at determining if there is significant vision loss, especially a difference between the two eyes.
Refraction - Measures the focusing power of the eyes. There is a small range of incorrect focusing power that is acceptable and this can easily be identified with several procedures. Again, a difference between the two eyes is more important than a small amount of near- or far-sightedness. Eye drops are often used to make this procedure even more precise.
Eye Movements, Binocular Coordination, and Accommodation - There are 14 different muscles that the child must learn to control in order to see the world single, clear and comfortably. For infants, it is common to have minor, occasional lapses in control. Careful observation by the pediatric optometrist can determine if the child is developing appropriate eye movement control for their age.
Ocular and Systemic Health Screening - Bright lights and magnifying instruments are used to view the different structures of the eyes and supporting tissues. Usually dilating drops are used to temporarily enlarge the pupil so the internal eye structures can be viewed. The lights and drops do not cause any damage but are occasionally uncomfortable and resisted by children. Most of the time a little persistence and consoling will provide the examiner enough time and cooperation to complete the procedure.
Perceptual Testing - Visual Perception is a broad term that describes how the brain organizes and interprets the information sent by the eyes and other sense organs. This is a very important skill for young learners. Information from the history or examination may indicate the need to examine the child's visual perceptual skills. A screening procedure may be administered during the eye examination or a comprehensive developmental assessment can be scheduled for another day.