Kid-friendly environment at visual center allows for better eye exam

August 8, 2012, University of California, San Francisco

When new patients are brought to the UCSF Visual Center for the Child, eye examinations begin even before they enter the doctor’s room.

In the center’s waiting area, colorful murals and toys engage children and allow doctors to observe them first in a casual setting, checking for warning signs such as a tilted head or squinting eyes.

“When we examine young children in a nonthreatening way, we get information we might not get otherwise,” said ophthalmologist Tina Rutar, MD, the center’s director.

The center, which opened in 2010, is designed specifically with the aim of providing more comprehensive exams and treatment for children.

Before that, children visiting the Department of Ophthalmology had to use adult-sized equipment in scary exam rooms that didn’t necessarily cater to their unique needs, even though the department was considered one of the nation’s best facilities for pediatric ophthalmology. The challenges inspired the creation of a separate clinic devoted to serving their youngest patients.

“The developmental ages between 0 and 6 are a sensitive period for vision. If the brain doesn’t learn how to see then, there can be permanent damage, including blindness,” she said.

Like the waiting rooms, toys and videos also are present in the exam room to put children at ease and distract them from doctors looking at the retina and optic nerve using a cordless, indirect ophthalmoscope. The interactive, kid-friendly setting is key to identifying problems as early as possible, according to Rutar.

“We are lucky to have this unique space,” she said.

Pediatricians generally refer patients to the Visual Center whenever they fail basic vision exams or have conditions such as blocked tear ducts, congenital cataracts, or outward drift of the eyes. If a child is suspected of having a rare disease, the center’s doctors have access to advanced imaging tools and all the resources of the adult ophthalmology department.

Explore further: Eyes are windows to more than a child's soul

Related Stories

Eyes are windows to more than a child's soul

September 1, 2011
Nearly 80 percent of what children learn during their first 12 years is through their vision. Though vision problems may seem easy to identify, they actually can be difficult for parents to discern. Still, parents need to ...

Protective eyewear can ward off injuries in young athletes

July 27, 2012
Doctors warn of spike in sports-related eye injuries with start of training season.

Smartphone can be a new tool in emergency department diagnosis

July 23, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Emory Eye Center investigators have found that smartphone displays are as good, and may be better, for reading fundus photographs of the back of the eye (retina and optic nerve) than desktop computer monitors. ...

Holiday gift guide: Choosing safe toys for children

December 15, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- More than 180,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries last year. Here, two UNC Health Care experts offer toy-safety tips for the kids in your life.

Don't get tricked into hurting your eyes with unsafe contact lenses for Halloween

October 25, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Some people think it’s cool to give themselves “cat” eyes, “wolf” eyes or really bloodshot eyes for Halloween. That’s possible with decorative contact lenses, but an optometrist ...

Recommended for you

Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma

January 16, 2018
While testing genes to treat glaucoma by reducing pressure inside the eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists stumbled onto a problem: They had trouble getting efficient gene delivery to the cells that act like drains ...

New study offers added hope for patients awaiting corneal transplants

January 9, 2018
New national research led by Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has found that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before transplantation surgery to correct eye problems ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Ophthalmologists increasingly dissatisfied with electronic health records

December 29, 2017
Ophthalmologists' use of electronic health records (EHR) systems for storing and accessing patients' medical histories more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, while their perceptions of financial and clinical productivity ...

Higher omega-3 fatty acid intake tied to lower glaucoma risk

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Increased daily intake of ω-3 fatty acids is associated with lower odds of glaucoma, but higher levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake are associated with higher odds of developing glaucoma, ...

Protein analysis allows for treatment of eye-disease symptoms with existing drugs

December 21, 2017
Demonstrating the potential of precision health, a team led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has matched existing drugs to errant proteins expressed by patients with a rare eye disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.