Screening vision in infants and children is important. But, how do you screen a baby’s vision quickly and accurately with minimal invasion? What about a toddler or preschool child who cannot read, verbalize or cooperate for a traditional exam? And, what about the special needs population (including Autism spectrum) for whom vision exams are extremely complicated and can cause sensory overload?
The Enfant Pediatric VEP Vision Testing System
An answer to the growing need for “quick and easy” eye exams for children is the Enfant Pediatric VEP Vision Testing System made by Diopsys. VEP stands for Visual Evoked Potential technology. This is a fancy way of saying they are measuring the brain responses from a child watching Television! How cool is that? Very!
The Enfant VEP system is able to detect several children’s vision issues including: Amblyopia (Lazy Eye), Strabismus, as well as severe refractive errors and optic nerve disorders. Amblyopia, if left untreated will lead to blindness and loss of vision if left untreated. As with any medical condition – early detection is key.
A typical VEP exam
The exam is as simple as an examiner placing three electrodes onto the child’s head as well as occluding each eye. The electrodes are painless and the exam is completed in a matter of minutes. The electrodes measure the neurological responses between the brain and the eye as the child watches a cartoon video with music play on a screen a few feet away. Printable results are available to the screener immediately upon the test completion. The results will indicate whether the child has passed or failed and include a numerical score.
Who are we testing and what are we testing for?
We are testing children six months of age and older in order to detect visual deficits such as optic nerve disorders, severe refractive errors, amblyopia, and conditions which could lead to amblyopia.
Pediatric Vision Screening
Though many vision issues are genetic in nature – just because both parents have perfect vision does not guarantee that a child will also see 20/20. Early identification of vision issues in children is crucial and should start with vision checks at all infant and well-child visits. Before the age of 1 year old (6 months old is suggested) your child should have a thorough eye exam by a vision professional. There are programs, like the InfantSee program that provide for free vision screening for infants by a qualified Optometrist.
Your child’s vision should be screened again around age 3 and before entering school. Vision issues can impact your child’s school performance academically, socially, and physically. A child who is struggling to see may have problems with reading and writing or act disinterested. A child may seem uncoordinated, klutzy, or appear lazy – when the reality is they need corrective lenses. Some children will need glasses for seatwork and reading (they are farsighted) and others for reading the board or seeing distance (they are nearsighted or myopic). Many children also have a ‘hidden’ vision issue like Amblyopia, a neurological condition where one eye is doing the work for two. These are just a few of the vision issues that a visit to a trained vision professional, either an Optometrist or Pediatric Ophthalmologist will be able to diagnose. Some signs that your child may be having trouble seeing without you knowing it could be frequent headaches, dizziness, frequent falling and/or tripping – to name a few. Your child may not be able to articulate or let you know that there is a problem with their vision because they do not realize or know that there is any problem. Parents can even find Free Vision assessment tools online to identify areas of concern.
It a misconceived notion that in order to test a child’s vision they must be able to read a traditional eye chart with letters on it (the one with the big E at the top). Your child absolutely does not need to be able to read to go to the eye doctor for a full vision screening. If your child isn’t yet reading letters they will use of specially developed assessment tools including picture cards and charts. The most popular is the Allen Chart which includes icons of a birthday cake, a bird, a telephone, a hand, and a horse.
For children who are not yet talking nor able to cooperate with a traditional exam, seek out a practice that is employing the latest in vision screening technologies – i.e.: the Enfant Pediatric Vision testing system or the PediaVision Assessment Solution. Both of these technologies are used in vision screening for kids as young as 6 months old and do not rely on a verbal response from the child to accurately measure their visual acuity.
Reasons for Visual Evoked Potential test:
- Frequent eye rubbing when your child is not sleepy (eye strain)
- Grasps for objects and missed (double vision)
- Previously failed eye test
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Misaligned eyes (strabismus)
- Injury of the eye
- Premature birth
- Born by cesarean delivery
- Anoxic brain damage
- Difficulty in school (learning disorder)
- Lack of coordination
- Abnormal reflex
- Late talker or walker (delayed milestones)
- Complaining of headaches
- Long-term (current) use of antibiotics
- Long-term (current) use of meds (ototoxic)
- Lyme disease
- Other demylination of CNS
- Infantile Cerebral Palsy