Health Blog

Welcome to the ongoing series of blog posts from UTMB Health focusing on key aspects of maintaining your health

two children with eye glasses

Vision Care for Pediatric and Special Needs Patients

A common saying is to “try to see the world through the eyes of a child.” Children have the amazing ability to show authenticity, vulnerability, laughter, tears, and adaptability in almost any situation. They also experience a great deal of development in both vision and cognitive skills from year to year.

As a result, the testing and evaluation methods used to assess vision in infants are quite different from those used with preschool-age children, which are quite different from those used with school-aged children. A residency-trained pediatric optometrist has the background required to adapt testing and evaluation methods to the cognitive and communication abilities of every child, at every stage of childhood.

Seeking an optometrist that understands the norms of pediatric testing and evaluation results, as well as pediatric vision development, can help prevent a pediatric vision condition being completely overlooked or the misdiagnosis of a visual impairment.

Girl getting eyes examined

Compounding that are children who experience disabilities and different levels of cognitive ability, nonverbal and verbal. Children and adults with Down syndrome, Autism, cerebral palsy, or other developmental delays may need special attention during comprehensive eye examinations, as well as special testing to ensure that conditions are not overlooked. Eye examinations are tailored to the ability of the patient, and may provide extra time and room for those who need it, compared to the typical exam environment.

We also understand the close relationship between schools and therapy teams, and are committed to delivering the best care when concerns are noted or special requirements are requested.

Additionally, children will outgrow their pediatric eye care facilities. This can be a difficult transition for any child, but especially for those who have special needs. Our specialists are able to provide care to special needs patients from childhood through adulthood, ensuring that there is no interruption in care.

Regular vision care from an specialist trained to address a wide spectrum of special needs can improve not only the patient’s quality of vision— but also their quality of life.

Ashton Ehlers, OD, FAAQ, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. She specializes in optometry for pediatric patients, special needs patients, and brain injury vision rehabilitation.

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