Pediatric Ophthalmology

At North Suburban Eye Associates, Dr. Kim McNulty specializes in children’s ophthalmology and treating pediatric eye disease in the greater Boston area.

Dr. McNulty has been pediatric-trained and is comfortable dealing with pediatric eye problems. We are sensitive to the differences between an adult exam and that for a child. We care for newborns, toddlers, and teens. Dr. McNulty has been treating kids with eye disease since 1985. Give us a call at 781-245-5200 today to schedule your child's pediatric eye care appointment with Dr. McNulty!

little girls covering one eye with her hand with blurred mostly white background

How Important Are Eye Exams For Children?

It is very important for the child’s overall health and well-being to have clear vision and healthy eyes. This is also directly linked to their academic performance in school. Although schools may perform vision screenings each year, these do not test the overall health of the child’s eye. This is why it is important for your child to get professional eye exams with a certified ophthalmologist, like Dr. McNulty. She will test your child’s vision, while also evaluating the child’s eyes for more serious conditions and diseases.

Pediatric Eye Conditions We Treat At North Suburban Eye Associates

Dr. McNulty treats common newborn problems, such as blocked nasal lacrimal ducts, which cause chronic tearing. She also specializes in treating amblyopia or lazy eye. We strongly recommend that all children with a family history of lazy eye have a complete eye exam before age 3 since this problem commonly runs in families. While early treatment leads to better long term results, it is often difficult to treat this problem after age eight. “Crossed eyes” or strabismus is another common problem treated at North Suburban Eye.

What Are Some Common Tests Performed During Pediatric Eye Exam?

During your child’s eye examination at North Suburban Eye Associates, we will usually include tests for the following:
  • Visual acuity
  • Eye tracking
  • Binocular coordination
  • Focusing skills
  • Dyslexia
  • Color blindness
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Hand-eye coordination
Depending on the age and reading ability of the child, Dr. McNulty may employ various diagnostic charts and tests. Other than traditional eye charts for near and distant vision, other tests performed may include:
  • A visual field test
  • Dilation
  • Slit-lamp examination
  • Cover test
  • Retinoscopy
  • Refraction
Using these tests, Dr. McNulty is able to assess whether corrective lenses are necessary to improve your child’s vision or whether there is an eye disease or underlying condition that requires treatment.

How long does a pediatric eye exam typically take?

These exams usually take from 30-45 minutes. If the child’s eyes are to be dilated, this adds another 30 minutes or so to the appointment to let the eye drops fully dilate the pupils.

Are there any signs of potential vision problems that I should watch for?

There are certain behaviors that can point to a possible vision problem with your child. These are signs to watch for, and then to be sure to describe them to Dr. McNulty at your child’s eye exam appointment:

  • They don’t follow objects — By the time your baby is four months old he or she should follow moving objects. If this isn’t happening it can be a sign he or she may not be seeing clearly.
  • They rub their eyes frequently — While you may assume rubbing of the eyes means your child is getting sleepy, it can also be a sign of eye fatigue and a hint that your baby could need glasses.
  • They hold objects too close — If a baby holds toys especially close to his or her face, this can be a sign of having difficulty with vision.
  • Crossed eyes — If your baby’s eyes seem crossed most of the time, eyeglasses may be needed to train the eyes to work together.

What can be learned by testing an infant’s eyes?

Just because you don’t think of babies as having to read small text and other more stringent uses of their eyes, they need to see just as well as adults. Infants need to have focusing ability, color vision, and depth perception by 6 months of age. This allows them to explore their world and to develop on the normal timeline.

At what age should you start taking your child for his or her first eye exam?

It’s interesting that many of the timelines we need to be aware of with our children are common knowledge, such as needing to have your child fully vaccinated prior to entering kindergarten. But that’s not the case with seeing the eye doctor for the first time. Parents often have no idea when their child should first have his or her eye examined.

These exams are critical, however, because poor vision can hold a child back in development and later in school performance. Plus, eye exams can catch childhood vision diseases and conditions before they can cause permanent vision damage. The American Optometric Association (AOA) estimates that from 5-10 percent of preschoolers and one quarter of school-aged children have vision problems.

The AOA recommends that infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Beyond that, the next eye exam should be at age 3, and then again just before the child enters kindergarten or first grade, around age 5 or 6.

How often should my child have a pediatric eye exam?

Here is the timeline from the American Optometric Association for when children should have their eyes examined:

  • Children 5 years and younger — Children under three should see a pediatrician to check for the most common eye problems, such as lazy eye. Otherwise, children between 3 and 5 should see Dr. McNulty and our team for their eye examination.
  • School-age children and teens — Your child needs his or her vision checked before they enter first grade. From there, vision should be checked every one or two years to be sure their refraction/vision correction prescription hasn’t changed. Unlike adult vision, children’s refractive errors can change regularly, meaning their eyeglass or contact lens prescription changes as well.

Is it necessary to prepare my child for his or her pediatric eye care appointment?

If your child is showing any anxiety about their upcoming visit to see Dr. McNulty at North Suburban Eye Associates, it could help to explain the process. Obviously, this is only true as the child gets a little older. There isn’t any pain involved in these appointments, so that should be made clear.

You should explain why it’s important for your child to have their eyes examined. There could be a problem that would keep them from being able to read the white board at the front of the room, for instance. “You couldn’t see the teacher’s writing on that board, so how will you keep up in school?” “We need to have your eyes checked so you can see the pictures in your favorite book clearly.”

Explain the equipment that will enable Dr. McNulty to see right into the back of the child’s eye. Spark some curiosity about how cool that is. That can overcome any anxiety. Otherwise, when you’re here at our Wakefield or Winchester office with Dr. McNulty, her way with children puts them instantly at ease.

What To Expect After Your Child’s Eye Exam?

After the eye examination, most children do not require any further treatment. If a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan will be developed that may include:

  • Prescription for eyeglasses
  • A recommendation that sunglasses be worn
  • Medication for inflammation or infection
  • Wearing a patch on the more functional eye (for amblyopia)
  • Vision therapy for weak eye muscles
  • Surgical repair (this is rare)
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Our optical shop in Wakefield and Winchester offer a wide range of pediatric glasses for our patients. We also offer contact lens fittings for our teenage patients.

Patient Testimonials:

"I highly recommend North Suburban Eye Associates. The entire staff works as a team to ensure a pleasant and comfortable visit. I would, without hesitation, trust my eye care and needs to NSEA." - N.A.

"I cannot say enough good things about my visit. Everybody was super nice, knowledgeable, efficient, and helpful. This will be where my family goes for eyecare." - E.D.

"Great place Wonderful Staff Would recommend to everyone . The staff always makes you feel so comfortable ." - C.H.

Schedule a Consultation With Our Pediatric Ophthalmologist In MA Today!

To schedule a pediatric eye exam for your child, contact North Suburban Eye Associates today! Call us at 781-245-5200 to schedule an appointment at your nearest location, or fill out the appointment request form in our contact page. Our experienced doctors serve patients in our Wakefield, Waltham and Winchester, MA locations.

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