3 Things Parents Need To Know About Pediatric Low Vision

Posted on: 5 April 2016

Low vision refers to vision loss that makes everyday life difficult and can't be corrected with methods like glasses, contact lenses or even eye surgery. A visual acuity of 20/70 or poorer with best correction is classified as low vision, meaning that your child can see from a distance of 20 feet what a child with perfect vision can see from 70 feet. Low vision can be particularly challenging for children. Here are three things parents need to know about pediatric low vision.

What are the signs of pediatric low vision?

Children with low vision have never experienced anything else, so they don't know that they see differently than other people. Since your child won't realize that their low vision isn't normal, you'll need to notice the signs. If your child has low vision, you may notice that they don't recognize family member's faces. They may trip on the stairs or walk into walls, furniture or other obstacles. They may have trouble coloring inside the lines in their coloring books, and once they start school, they may not be able to learn how to read.

How is pediatric low vision diagnosed?

While the eye chart is a well-known test, it's not ideal for young children who don't know their letters. Other tests can be used for young children. One test makes use of familiar symbols—like squares, circles or apples—instead of letters, and children need to recognize the symbols.

Retinoscopy can also be used to test vision. This test can be used if your child can't read the symbols on the chart or is too shy to talk to the optometrist. During this test, the optometrist will shine a light into your child's eye and analyze the way the light reflects off of the retina.

How is pediatric low vision managed?

Even with glasses or contact lenses, children with pediatric low vision will still have trouble seeing clearly. Their optometrist may recommend low vision aids that can help your child perform their daily tasks more easily. Magnifiers and telescopes are the most common low vision aids.

Magnifiers are hand-held or stand-mounted devices that your child can use to do close-up tasks like reading, coloring or playing with their toys. Telescopes can be either hand-held or mounted to glasses and can be used to see the chalkboard at school or watch television. Learning to use these devices can be challenging, so your child will need to receive training from their optometrist.

If you're worried that your child has pediatric low vision, take them to an optometrist like Focus West Optometry for an eye exam.