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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

August 31, 2022
Innovative vision screenings can protect your kids from preventable vision impairment

Most children are very accustomed to having their cutest moments captured in photos via a mobile device, such as a cell phone or tablet. Thanks to GoCheck Kids, an innovative pediatric vision photoscreening solution, children are now able to get vision checks by their pediatricians in a similar way with quick results.

Setting her sights on her own children’s care

Alma Cruz joined the team at Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics as a medical assistant in 2019. She began working closely with Dr. Lisa Pepka, a primary care pediatrician, at Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics in Scottsdale. As a mother of three, Alma couldn’t help but notice how well Dr. Pepka worked with her patients and their families. “I really appreciate how she takes her time with each family,” said Alma. “She always conducts thorough examinations and explains everything to families. No matter how many questions families ask, she is extremely patient and respectful, and answers in ways they can understand.”

Dr. Pepka’s exceptional level of care is noticed by her patients as well. “Children are very comfortable with Dr. Pepka,” said Alma. “She can make examinations fun, keeping children at ease.”

Soon after working with Dr. Pepka, Alma brought her own children — then 9-year-old son, 7-year-old daughter and 18-month-old daughter — into the office for their routine exams. All three children immediately took to “Dr. Lisa” and were always happy to visit the office for their medical appointments.

Innovative vision screenings can protect your kids from preventable vision impairment

GoCheck Kids detects potential vision disorders in real-time

When Alma’s 18-month-old daughter, Alyssa, had her well-child exam, Dr. Pepka suggested using the GoCheck Kids solution to conduct a routine vision screening.

Providing vision screening results in real-time, GoCheck Kids immediately alerted Dr. Pepka to a possible abnormality in Alyssa’s vision. Alyssa was referred to Phoenix Children’s ophthalmologist, Dr. Elyssa Rosenthal, who conducted a more comprehensive eye exam. The anomaly in Alyssa’s vision turned out to be astigmatism, a curvature of the cornea or lens. The diagnosis came as a surprise to Alma. “While I, too, have lived with astigmatism since I was a child, Alyssa is too young to really articulate that she was been having difficulties focusing or seeing,” said Alma.

Alyssa was soon fitted for prescription eyeglasses, and what a recognizable difference! “The moment Alyssa put on her new corrective glasses, she looked around the room and was in complete awe,” said Alma. “She could clearly see her whole family beaming back at her.”

With Alyssa’s vision in check, Alma then focused on obtaining a comprehensive eye exam for her older daughter, Angelina. “When I found out that astigmatism is often hereditary, I wanted to make sure that Angelina didn’t have a similar vision issue,” said Alma. After getting her checked, Alma learned that Angelina did in fact have astigmatism, and she was also fitted with prescription glasses. “Had GoCheck Kids been available when Angelina was younger, we could’ve resolved her vision issue much earlier,” said Alma.

Innovative vision screenings can protect your kids from preventable vision impairment

GoCheck Kids, a kid-friendly solution for eye exams

GoCheck Kids uses technology already familiar to and comfortable for young children. Plus, there are additional benefits to using GoCheck Kids for children’s vision screenings.

Most adults are very accustomed to reading the letters on a Snellen eye chart, a common tool used to measure visual acuity during routine vision checks. However, this type of eye exam isn’t very effective for young children who have yet to learn the alphabet or for non-verbal children who are managing medical complexities. “GoCheck Kids removes barriers and enables providers to conduct vision screenings on pediatric patients and immediately alert families to potential vision issues. Being able to screen children who are not yet able to participate in the Snellen eye exam is crucial in identifying problems early. This allows us to start treatment that if not initiated could result in permanent vision loss,” said Dr. Pepka.

An FDA-registered photoscreening solution, GoCheck Kids enables providers to screen children’s eyes using a smartphone. Less intimidating for children than the more complex medical devices commonly used for vision checks, providers simply point the smartphone as if they are taking a child’s photo. The GoCheck Kids solution scans the child’s eyes for possible vision impairments, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), anisometropia (difference in vision between the two eyes), astigmatism (a curvature of the cornea or lens) and eye misalignment.

Words of wisdom for families with young children

Alma recently moved into a new position at Phoenix Children’s, and based on her professional and personal experience, she always encourages families to seek out eye exams for their young children. “Ask if your child’s pediatric office offers GoCheck Kids. If they don’t, Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics does,” said Alma. “I also highly recommend anyone in the Scottsdale area consider Dr. Pepka for their children’s ongoing health care needs. She’s extremely knowledgeable, makes my children feel very important and has been building relationships with them over the past three years. My children really listen to their ‘Dr. Lisa’ as she teaches them healthy lifestyle habits at each visit. She’s a ten out of ten!”

Innovative vision screenings can protect your kids from preventable vision impairment

Vision screening schedule for infants and children

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children have their eyes routinely checked several times within their first three years:

  • At birth: Pediatrician may exam a baby’s eyes for birth abnormalities, infections, cataracts and glaucoma. Premature babies may need specialized exams by an ophthalmologist.
  • Within the first six months: Pediatricians may look into family history of childhood vision problems and track a baby’s physical eye and vision development.
  • Six months and older: Pediatricians will continue to check eye/vision development and look for symptoms of strabismus (“lazy eye” or “wandering eye”).
  • One to three years of age: Pediatricians may conduct routine vision screenings, using photoscreening tools like GoCheck Kids.
  • Beginning at four years of age: Pediatricians may conduct more in-depth visual acuity screenings using tools like the Snellen eye chart.

If you are looking for a pediatrician to care for your child, you can learn more about Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics at phoenixchildrenspediatrics.org.

About Dr. Lisa Pepka

Dr. Lisa Pepka is a pediatrician and the physician lead at Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics in Scottsdale. Dr. Pepka provides primary care and specializes in caring for patients with special needs. She values the unique opportunity to be part of her patients’ and their families’ lives.

An Arizona native, Dr. Pepka followed in her father’s footsteps to become a pediatrician. She attended medical school at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and completed her residency at Phoenix Children’s Hospital/Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.

When not caring for patients, Dr. Pepka enjoys spending time with her extended family, including her dog. She loves adventuring outdoors and hiking. An avid football fan, she is also a longtime Arizona Cardinals season ticket holder.

About Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics

Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics provides children and adolescents with high-quality health care in a warm, welcoming and friendly environment. For your convenience, Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics has several locations to serve you and each office is specifically designed with children’s comfort in mind. You’ll find our pediatric offices in neighborhoods throughout Chandler, Gilbert, Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Cottonwood. Each location staffed with highly knowledgeable health care teams committed to delivering compassionate care for children. For more information and to find a location near you, visit phoenixchildrenspediatrics.org.

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