The benefits of eye exams for very young children can be substantial, according to Gilbert, Ariz. family optometrist Dr. Chad Carlsson of Carlsson Family Eye Center. Dr. Carlsson specializes in eye care for the entire family and has been specially trained to evaluate the vision of children as young as six months old. According to Dr. Carlsson, many families don’t think to have their young children’s sight evaluated, which can lead to problems in school, learning impairments and even blindness.
“One in four children have some kind of vision problem, and typically 80 percent of what a child learns up to the age of 12 is visually related,” says Dr. Carlsson. “A lot of times, these children go under the radar. They can see 20/20, but maybe only out of one eye, or they have a hidden far-sightedness that makes it difficult for them to concentrate at school especially with stuff up close—homework, computer work—because it puts a real strain on their focusing system.”
This failure to diagnose a vision problem can lead to other, more complicated problems, explains Dr. Carlsson. “Oftentimes, [children with undiagnosed vision disorders] end up going down the wrong road. They fall behind in school; they have a hard time reading and have a hard time catching up. This can lead to them being misdiagnosed with ADHD and ending up on drugs they don’t need, or getting worked up for an IEP at school, when all they needed was a good eye exam and a new pair of glasses to help them become more efficient with their vision.”
Dr. Carlsson advises parents to start getting their children’s vision checked sometime between the ages of one and three, and definitely before starting preschool. “The leading cause of preventable blindness in children is lazy eye, the onset of which is between one and eight years of age,” says Dr. Carlsson. “The earlier we catch it, the easier it is to treat it.”
Dr. Carlsson emphasizes the importance of selecting an optometrist who is trained to evaluate small children. “Many optometrists aren’t trained in pediatrics, so they don’t have the accommodations to evaluate children younger than six,” says Dr. Carlsson. Prior to opening his practice in 2006, Dr. Carlsson completed a one-year residency in pediatrics and binocular vision disorders. “It’s an area that’s really underserved in optometry, and since I first became interested in the field as a young child when I was first diagnosed with vision problems, I knew that I wanted to specialize in treating children. What’s neat about our practice is that we have the training and knowledge to thoroughly examine a child as young as 6 months old.”
Parent, Cameron Brown says that they have been coming to Carlsson Family Eye Center for the last three years. “We were referred to Dr. Carlsson by a provider carrying the same credentials as Dr. Carlsson, who was unable to diagnose my son’s eye muscle problem. With Dr. Carlsson’s expertise, he was quickly able to identify the problem and provide my son with the lenses he needed to stop his recurring headaches and eye fatigue.”
“My son needed his eyes checked by a developmental ophthalmologist and we were referred to Dr Carlsson’s office,” says parent, Colton Johnson, “I left Dr Carlsson’s office in awe of his expertise. He knew exactly what to look for, took his time to be accurate and is very personable with kids and adults.”
Families should also make an effort to find an optometry practice that can evaluate a broad variety of ages, says Dr. Carlsson. “At our practice, the whole family is welcome. We encourage that because it helps us to be able to see the entire family’s ocular history, so we can diagnose not just what is going on now, but what might be coming later on down the road due to the family’s eye history. Also, it makes it very convenient for our patients to go to one location for the entire family’s eye care needs.”
Carlsson Family Eye Center is located at 3592 S. Atherton Blvd. Suite 111 in Gilbert, Ariz. More information is available at: http://www.carlssoneye.com.