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Ophthalmology

Smiling boy in glasses

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It is essential to check your child's vision when they are first born and again during infancy, preschool and school years. Vision screenings can be performed by a pediatrician, family physician or other properly trained health care provider. Vision screenings also are offered at schools, community health centers or community events.

Untreated vision problems can have serious effects on a child's learning, development and physical performance. They also can lead to long-term visual impairments.

To help children with these issues, Catherine and Robert Alexander, founded the Alexander Vision Center more than 40 years ago. The center was established in the early 1970s when Mrs. Alexander started a vision screening program to address the needs of young children in the Fort Worth area. The screenings revealed children who not only needed routine eye care services, but also children whose families couldn't obtain adequate care to correct their children's vision issues due to insufficient insurance coverage or finances.

The Alexander Vision Center eye clinic provides routine eye examinations and prescription eye glasses to children in North Central Texas who may need vision care. These services are for children whose families meet the 150% federal poverty level and are not covered by Medicaid or private insurance for eye care services. These routine ophthalmological examinations and prescription eye glasses are provided at no cost to the families.

Children who are covered for vision care services through Medicaid or private insurance are not seen in the Cook Children's Alexander Vision Center. Families on Medicaid should call the telephone number on the child's Medicaid card to learn more about vision care coverage and to receive a list of available optometrists or ophthalmologists.

Signs your child may need glasses

  • Squinting to look or holding items close to their eyes, such as handheld electronic devices or printed text/books
  • Covering one eye to see handheld electronic devices or printed text/books
  • Sitting too close to the computer or television
  • Getting tired often and rubbing their eyes
  • Excessive tearing or watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Frequent headaches and/or eye aches

What to expect during an appointment

Once you arrive at the clinic, a thorough discussion of the family medical history, including eye health and any eye or vision symptoms, will be addressed. Any health conditions, allergies or medications will be noted. If your child is currently wearing glasses, the prescription will be reviewed for accuracy. Please make sure to bring your child's current eye glasses, even if broken, to the appointment.

After the initial health screen, your child will proceed to their appointment for examination. Your child's eyes will be checked using a combination of clinical examinations that may include:

  • Pupillary test: monitors your child's pupils' reaction to light.
  • Eye muscle movement test: checks the alignment of the eyes.
  • Cover/uncover test: observes how the eyes function together.
  • Visual acuity test: observes reading letters or figures at near and far distances.
  • Refraction vision test: a computerized refractor highlights refractive errors with additional exam from the doctor with a phoropter.
  • Slit lamp exam: magnifies your child's vision to provide the doctor a thorough look at the anatomy of the eye including, but not limited to the cornea, iris, lens and back of the eye.
  • Dilated pupillary exam: dilates the pupils to assess the eye fundus or retina and optic nerve for symptoms of eye disease. Dilation spray or drops will be administered. The effects of the dilation may last anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. Your child's vision will be blurry from the dilation.

Additional tests may be included.

The comprehensive eye exam may last up to an hour and a half. This gives the technicians and ophthalmologist/optometrist plenty of time to evaluate the overall health and wellness of your children's eyes. Vision concerns will be discussed with the family and corrective lenses will be prescribed, if needed.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommend:

  • A thorough vision exam by an ophthalmologist, pediatrician or family doctor during a child's newborn, infancy, preschool and school-year well child visits.
  • Check for nearsightedness (myopia), which is the most common refractive error in childhood and may be corrected with eye glasses.
  • Eye alignment should also be assessed. It's important to begin treatment as soon as possible to ensure successful vision correction and life-long benefits.
  • Dilation of the pupils is an essential part of a complete eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Dilation is necessary for a complete evaluation of the health of the inner parts of the eyes, as well as to accurately determine the presence of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and disease of the eyes.

Appointments and referrals

Referrals to the Alexander Vision Center should come from school nurses, doctor offices or public health agencies. Families are required to complete an application for screening and treatment. Specific income guidelines apply. Please see the 2020 Federal Register chart below for more information. Must fall below 150% of the federal poverty level.

Total # of family members Maximum gross monthly Income
1 $1,595
2 $2,155
3 $2,715
4 $3,275
5 $3,835
6 $4395
7 $4,955
8 $5,515
+ additional Add $560

The family will be notified of application approval by phone, and will receive a letter from our office two weeks prior to the date of the appointment. This letter will contain specific information including date, time and address of the appointment. We are currently able to schedule appointments within one month of application. If an application is denied, the family will be notified by phone and given information on other resources available for children to obtain eye care services.

Contact and Locations

Have a question? If you would like to speak to our staff, please call 682-885-4499.

Olga A. Uriegas
Clinic Coordinator
olga.uriegas@cookchildrens.org

Sescili Ramirez
Secretary
sescili.ramirez@cookchildrens.org

Cook Children's Ophthalmology
321 S. Henderson Street
Fort Worth, TX 76104
682-885-4499 phone
817-882-8992 fax