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A thorough eye exam is a crucial element in the care and development of a child with special needs. But for a child who might not be able to sit still, who cannot communicate verbally or who has trouble controlling neck muscles, a regular vision screening using typical techniques can be difficult or even impossible.

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Children with Special Needs

At the Children with Special Needs Service at the University Eye Center, a team of specially trained dedicated optometrists uses alternative methods to provide care for children with special needs in a sensitive, non-threatening environment. Ours is one of the few programs in the New York City area dedicated exclusively to providing comprehensive vision care for special needs children. The unique service offers multiply-handicapped children services unavailable in most other clinical settings. Our optometrists and researchers are pioneers in adapting diagnostic techniques and developing innovative treatments for children with a range of abilities. 

The University Eye Center doctor spends an average of two hours with each child in order to evaluate eye health and visual function. Doctors often collaborate with other members of the child’s healthcare team (e.g., physical and occupational therapists) to get a full sense of needs and to set appropriate goals. Based on the results of a comprehensive eye exam, an individualized plan is developed to help each child reach his or her full visual potential.

The Children with Special Needs Service helps children affected by a wide range of conditions such as:

  • Autism
  • Albinism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Clumsy child syndrome
  • Congenital deformities
  • Spina bifida
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Genetic anomalies
  • Mental retardation
  • Congenital rubella syndrome
  • Cortical blindness
  • Deafness or hearing loss
  • Legal blindness
  • Total blindness
  • Failure to thrive
  • Shaken baby syndrome