A pediatric optometrist is an expert in the diagnosis and management of a range of eye conditions found in children. These include strabismus, a crossing of the eyes, and amblyopia, otherwise known as “lazy eye.”
An optometrist specializing in pediatric eye care also receives training on how to conduct a thorough eye examination on children, including very young or otherwise non-verbal children.
Children’s sight can begin to degrade from as early as six months old. Factors like congenital conditions, a prior family history of certain eye problems, or a difficult birth can all contribute to vision loss in very young children.
These problems, if they go undiagnosed, can cause significant problems for children as they grow throughout their crucial developmental years. Many children who experience difficulties at school are often found to have an issue with their eyesight.
That’s why experts recommend children’s eyes be tested from six months of age by a specialist pediatric optometrist. It’s also why many colleges of optometry offer specific programs for graduate optometrists to branch out into pediatric eye care.
There’s no fast-track to becoming a pediatric optometrist. Anyone wanting to enter the field must have a degree in optometry as a prerequisite. However, there are around two dozen optometry schools around the United States offering pediatric optometry programs for qualified optometrists. We’ve listed some of them here.
Illinois College of Optometry
This fantastic college offers optometrists an extensive program on pediatric optometry, covering every aspect of vision care for children and infants.
Students learn about the common eye conditions found in children, including strabismus and amblyopia, as well as accommodative and ocular motility disorders and vision-related learning difficulties.
Indiana University School of Optometry
Indiana’s School of Optometry’s pediatric residency program covers all the facets of pediatric optometry, including binocular vision disorders, visual information processing disorders, and the vision therapy techniques used to treat them.
Students at the school are also encouraged to learn about and participate in clinical research surrounding the field of pediatric optometry.
Michigan College of Optometry
This college’s pediatric optometry program spans a 12-month period, covering every aspect of primary and secondary pediatric eye care. The program focuses on the care of infant patients and provides education on the traumatic brain injuries that can lead to visual impairment in children.
Duke University Eye Center
This excellent program in North Carolina takes optometrists through the complete A-to-Z of pediatric optometry. Students will begin with the basics of children’s eye care, moving through to diagnosing and managing a range of pediatric vision problems.
The program expands on this knowledge by providing opportunities to work with pediatric ophthalmologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, and retina specialists.
These are a small selection of the exceptional pediatric optometry residency programs available for qualified optometrists across the United States. There are plenty of resources available online, enabling future optometrists to browse through the best pediatric optometrist programs on offer.