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There are many causes of blindness and reduced vision in children that can lead to a compromise in visual function and performance. The low vision exam is an important step in determining how your child uses his or her vision to function and whether visual aids and other environmental modifications can make daily tasks, like reading and writing, comfortable and manageable for your child. So to prepare for your exam, write down questions you may have and bring them to your appointment.

The low vision exam usually takes about 60 minutes. The exam begins with a verbal history from patient and family members. Our goal is to address the primary concerns of the child, parent and teacher in regards to the effect vision impairment has on the child's performance. Methods to maximize vision are reviewed. Your child's optometrist will ask questions about how your child is progressing in school, the use of magnifiers or any other visual equipment at home and at school. A review of textbooks and academic papers customarily used in school helps to determine appropriate print size and level of magnification needed.

Vision tests include viewing the eye charts. Picture, letter or number charts are used at various distances. For toddlers and non-verbal children, visual acuity can be measured with standardized tests designed for this young age group. Toys may also be used to help the optometrist learn how your child uses vision to function.

A portion of the exam will address the appropriate magnification systems and non-optical recommendations keeping in mind the age and developmental abilities of the child.

After the exam, the optometrist will discuss the results of the visual assessment with the patient and family members. The benefits of eyeglasses, appropriate magnification devices and changes in the home and school environment will also be reviewed. These results will be shared with other health professionals, educators, and social workers to support the visual needs of the child.