Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Can We Tell if our NonVerbal Teen Needs Glasses?'

“Our teenage son is nonverbal and has autism. He’s always putting on his sister’s glasses. We’re wondering if it’s because he needs glasses too. How do we know? He can’t tell us. He certainly can’t read off the letters on a vision chart. So how do we perform a vision screening with a nonverbal child? We have a number of effective approaches. Sometimes children who can’t respond verbally will play a matching game. We ask them to match pictures, letters or numbers on a card held near to them with corresponding images at the back of the room. This can help us screen for refractive errors. Refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism produce the kind of blurred vision that we correct with glasses. Another highly effective test – that requires no response from the patient – is called cycloplegic retinoscopy. “Cycloplegic” refers to relaxing the eye’s focusing mechanism with ophthalmic drops. “Retinoscopy” refers to the use of a handheld instrument to look into the dilated eye and measure how the eye refracts light. Here is how such an exam unfolds:
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