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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

How can your child benefit from cycloplegic refraction?

As a parent, you want to ensure that your child has excellent vision to help them succeed in both school and life. How can your optometrist effectively identify any refractive vision problems your child may have? By using cycloplegic refraction, which involves the use of specialized eye drops, optometrists can provide a more accurate diagnosis and prescription for any refractive vision problems your child may have.


In this blog we will discuss what cycloplegic refraction is, how your child can benefit from cycloplegic refraction, as well as any side effects that cycloplegic refraction may have.



What is cycloplegic refraction?


A refraction is the part of the eye exam during which your optometrist will determine how much power is needed to bring your eyes to normal, focused vision. If you have a refractive error, it means that your eyes don’t allow light to be brought into sharp focus on your retina, which results in blurred or distorted vision. Refractive errors in your vision may include astigmatism, near-sightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia).


However, sometimes during a refraction, a person may subconsciously over-focus, making them seem more nearsighted or less farsighted than they actually are. During a cycloplegic refraction, an optometrist applies cycloplegic eye drops that temporarily relax the muscles in charge of focusing the eye. By preventing the eyes from over-focusing, an optometrist is able to determine the full extent of a person’s refractive error. 



Why is cycloplegic refraction useful during a child’s eye exam?


When you take your child to an optometrist for an eye exam, a refraction will also be done to determine whether they need glasses.


However, an optometrist may find it difficult sometimes to do a child’s eye exam, for a number of reasons:


·    If a child is aware of vision problems, he/she may be unable to give a clear description of what they are experiencing.

·    Children have the ability to focus to a great extent. They also tend to focus at close range, and struggle to control their focusing at a far distance during an eye exam.

·    During an eye exam, a child may also try too hard to “get the answers right” on the vision test, which causes them to subconsciously over-focus.


All these aspects may lead to the optometrist not getting an accurate evaluation of the child’s vision, resulting in an inaccurate diagnosis and the prescription of the wrong glasses or contact lenses.


Cycloplegic refraction is therefore useful in children’s eye exams, as the eye drops can prevent a child from over-focusing during an eye exam and give the optometrist a precise assessment of any possible refractions without the inaccuracy that may be caused by subconscious over-focusing.



What are the side effects of cycloplegic refraction?


Depending on the type of cycloplegic eye drops used, a person may have the following side effects of cycloplegic refraction:

·    Blurred vision for a few hours after the drops are administered. Avoid activities that require clear vision such as reading during this time.

·    Sensitivity to light. Reduce discomfort and protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses until the effect of the drops wear off.



In conclusion


Cycloplegic refraction is a valuable tool in ensuring your child’s vision is accurately assessed and managed. Optometrists use cycloplegic eye drops to prevent the eye from focusing, which provides a clearer assessment of any refractive errors that your child may have. Although the cycloplegic eye drops may cause a bit of discomfort, the side effects are temporary.



Book a comprehensive eye exam today


Tomlinson Optometrists offers a full range of optometry services, including a basic eye exam, vision testing and cycloplegic refraction, as well as various treatment options from prescription lenses or glasses to vision therapy.


Get in touch with us on WhatsApp:

Book an appointment online:

Phone 021 797 7291, email or visit us at 278B Main Road, Kenilworth.


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