Eye Exams for Children with Special Needs

At Pediatric Eye Care of Maryland, we have extensive experience working with children of all ages and abilities. Special needs children often have a higher risk of developing vision problems, and their vision problems can, in turn, exacerbate their disability. It can be difficult for parents to identify the symptoms and signs of vision problems in their children, especially when their children have difficulty with communication. Our staff is able to provide a safe and comfortable eye exam to any child–including those with physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities–at any one of our four locations in Eldersburg, Clarksville, Baltimore, and Westminster.

Vision problems and special needs conditions

There are many conditions that can increase the likelihood of vision problems. For example, children with cerebral palsy have a significantly higher risk of developing neurological eye diseases, including nystagmus (jiggling eyes), strabismus (misalignment of the eyes) and optic nerve abnormalities. Down syndrome can also put a child at higher risk for vision problems such as refractive errors, strabismus, and cataracts.

Vision problems can also exacerbate the symptoms of a disability, especially when it comes to learning disabilities. While it is important to note that vision problems do not cause learning disabilities, problems with focusing and comprehension can often be greatly improved when underlying vision problems are addressed.

Our approach to treating children with special needs

Eye examinations can be complex when performed on special needs children, especially when a child is nonverbal. Our staff is experienced in working with children with a range of abilities and will strive to make sure your child feels safe, welcome, and cared for throughout the entire examination. For special needs children who cannot communicate, we are able to perform a thorough eye examination using a variety of tools including 3-D images, toys, and pictures that will allow us to accurately determine their visual abilities and diagnose underlying conditions and issues. Early detection is key in preventing vision problems from exacerbating the symptoms of a disability, so working with an experienced pediatric ophthalmologist is incredibly important to help prevent issues from getting worse.

If your child needs to be fitted with eyeglasses, our trained team of opticians will custom-craft a pair that is fitted specifically to your child. We take many exacting measurements to ensure your child receives a pair of eyeglasses that fits perfectly and comfortably and we offer the best replacement plan of any of our competitors so you don’t have to worry if a pair gets accidentally damaged.