A cool, new tool for kids' vision screenings

Pediatric providers are using updated technology to test their youngest patients

Whether you are young or old, everyone gets excited about a new toy.

The newest toy we have in our outpatient pediatric offices at Dartmouth Hitchcock in Bedford, Manchester and Nashua is the PlusOptix S12C vision screener. Our pediatric ophthalmology colleagues and our local Lion’s Club introduced us to this new tool.

The Lion’s Club purchased a similar machine to provide free screenings at schools and parents would bring results to our offices for further management. Ophthalmology offices have used larger and fixed versions of this technology for years, but now pediatric providers have the ability to use this machine right in our offices and can provide vision screenings for children much younger than we used to be able to.

The Plus Optix S12C vision screener uses infrared light to take a series of images and measurements of both eyes. It takes less than a second at a distance of a little more than three feet.

Because the test is completed so quickly we can get great data on kids as young as six months of age, which gives us the ability to detect vision problems much younger than we would have been able to in the past. We could test for eye tracking early on, but visual acuity couldn’t be reliably tested until four to five years of age. Because of this limitation, we know that we missed some kids we would have liked to have helped sooner.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has now recommended that pediatric providers test vision at some point between ages one and three, and this new machine gives us that ability. We can even test older kids who either aren’t able to participate in our traditional shape- or letter-based vision charts.

The test looks for nearsightedness (where you can see near but struggle with far), farsightedness (where you can see far but struggle with near) as well as eye shape, eye tracking and pupil size. If a concern is found the pediatrician can provide the information to the patient and family and connect them to an appropriate pediatric ophthalmology provider.   

Dr. Shessler graduated from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Canada in 2005. He specializes in Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology and works in the Manchester office. House Calls is sponsored by Dartmouth-Hitchcock. For more information, go to www.chadkids.org.

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