Meet Dr. Stacy Pineles, Associate Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Center. We sat down with Dr. Pineles to discuss recommendations for proactive eye health. One of the main questions our team receives is around when they should bring their child to the eye doctor. Both Dr. Pineles and The American Academy of Ophthalmology and The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus have developed specific childhood eye screening guidelines that may be used as a quick reference for parents.
Their recommendations include exams by the pediatrician at the following times:
- A screening at birth
- Between 6 months - 1 year
- Preschool age 3-3 ½
- Annually thereafter - make a note to do this along with your child’s annual physical
We also did a Q/A with Dr. Pineles to get her perspective on the evolution in the eye health industry and tips for parents.
Q. How long have you been working as an optometrist?
I’ve been working as an ophthalmologist since 2008. My expertise is in pediatric and neuro-ophthalmology. I am an associate professor of ophthalmology at UCLA and I spend my time seeing patients, doing surgeries, training residents, and doing research on strabismus.
Q. How often should children receive an eye exam?
Children should have their vision checked by their pediatrician at well child check-ups once per year. If they have any concerns or if the parents have any concerns, then they should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Q. How have eye exams and glasses have changed over the years?
The biggest change is probably the introduction of more automated technology. For example, many doctors use autorefractors now instead of checking the refraction themselves from scratch. An autorefractor is a computer-controlled machine that’s used to provide an objective measurement of a person's refractive error and prescription for glasses. This is done by measuring how light is changed as it enters a person's eye and by using the autorefractor, we are able to obtain this data faster and more accurately than before. We also check the eye pressure with much better instruments that don’t hurt and aren’t a big puff of startling air.
Q. What are the top 3 tips you have for parents that may be concerned with their child’s vision? What should they be looking out for?
- Always schedule an eye exam!
- Look out for signs of poor vision. These may include; squinting, holding objects closer or further away, strabismus (eyes crossing or drifting out), light sensitivity and abnormal head positions when looking closely at something
- Check your photos - another sign of a serious eye condition is an abnormal red reflex in photos
Q. What should parents look for when purchasing prescription frames?
Buy-in from their children - they need to feel comfortable and happy in the glasses or else they won’t wear them. The next thing parents need to look for is fit. Glasses should fit properly and stay in place on the child’s face. Lastly, you want to find a style that is both durable and lightweight.
Q. Do you think it’s important for children to wear sunglasses while outdoors? At what age should they begin doing this?
Yes, it’s critical kids protect their eyes from direct sun and UV rays. I would make it a habit to put on sunglasses as soon as they will tolerate them.
Q. What is one thing you wish you could change about the eye care market?
I wish I had more time to spend with my patients and that there was a better way to dilate pupils besides giving kids eye drops. The eye drop experience is never favorite and can be a bit scary for younger children.
Thank you for reading,