Vision screening is one of the most important parts of your family's health care. Many serious eye disorders can be prevented or treated if detected soon enough. Eye Care Specialists ophthalmology practice in Milwaukee recommends that people have their eyes checked at the following stages:
A pediatrician should check your baby's eyes as part of a comprehensive newborn exam. "An ophthalmologist will be called if the eyes are cloudy, infected, or appear abnormal. A thorough eye exam is also required if the baby was born premature, has a low birth weight, or required oxygen treatment. Babies who have been exposed to maternal rubella, venereal diseases or AIDS-related infections, or those with a family history of retinoblastoma (a form of eye cancer), unusual metabolic disorders (e.g. galactosemia), or infantile cataracts should also be promptly evaluated," reports Dr. Norman Cohen, co-founder of Eye Care Specialists.
Your infant's doctor should check that your child's eyes are straight (not crossed in or out as with "strabismus") and that each eye can fix and follow a light or toy (unlike children with a "lazy eye" or "amblyopia"). The doctor will also make certain that light reflects and passes through the eye normally and that the tear ducts work properly.
"Your doctor should confirm proper development and alignment of the eyes and lids, as well as examine the internal structures of the eye with a hand-held instrument called an ophthalmoscope. They should test your child's exact visual acuity (e.g. 20/20) using charts with tumbling Es, pictures or letters. As before, any unusual findings by your pediatrician or family physician should prompt an immediate referral to an eye care specialist," says Dr. Robert Sucher, an eye surgeon with 33 years of experience.
Most schools provide annual visual screenings. The most common eye problem found during these tests is "nearsightedness" (inability to see letters or objects at a distance). Some authorities feel that the start of school is an appropriate time for the first visit to an eye doctor. He or she can then recommend the frequency of follow-up examinations based on your child's condition.
"Most young people have healthy eyes, but they still need to take care of their vision with an eye exam before age 20. Teenagers should be cautioned to use appropriate eye protection in chemistry, woodworking, shop and other classes, as well as when playing sports. People in this age group should also be advised of the dangers of inappropriate contact lens wear and care," notes ophthalmologist Dr. Daniel Ferguson, who sees patients of all ages and walks of life at three locations in the metropolitan Milwaukee area.
Even people in this group can be affected by eye problems. "As always, eye protection should be worn for sports, yard work, tasks involving chemicals, and any other activities that could cause eye injury. A complete eye exam is recommended at least once between the ages of 20 and 29, and at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39," says Dr. Brett Rhode, Head of Ophthalmology at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. If you have any of the risk factors listed later in this article, you may need to be seen more often.
Besides scheduling a thorough dilated eye exam every two to four years, you should be aware of symptoms that may indicate a problem as listed below.
Leading laser eye surgeon Dr. Mark Freedman advises, "Seniors should have complete eye exams every one to two years to check for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other conditions. Time is crucial, since some conditions have no warning signs and early treatment is needed to protect and preserve vision."
Remember, the best way to protect your vision is to schedule regular, thorough, dilated eye exams to check for hidden signs of sight-threatening conditions. Ask yourself and your family members—"When was your last eye exam?" If it was more than two years ago, it's time to pick up the phone.
Since 1985, Eye Care Specialists has provided comprehensive medical, surgical and laser care for virtually every eye condition to more than 121,000 people in southeastern Wisconsin. If you would like detailed booklets/handouts on cataracts, diabetic eye disease, dry eyes, flashes & floaters, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or other eye-related topics, please contact our Communications & Education Department at 414-321-7035. To schedule a comprehensive eye evaluation, call one of our three convenient Milwaukee-area locations shown at the top of this web page.