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AAOpt 2022: Knowing how to treat refractive error in pediatric patients, an evidence-based approach


Graham Erickson, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, shares highlights from his 2022 American Academy of Optometry presentation, "Evidence-based refractive prescribing for pediatric patients."

Graham Erickson, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, professor at Pacific University in Oregon, speaks with Optometry Times®' Kassi Jackson on highlights from his discussion titled, "Evidence-based refractive prescribing for pediatric patients," which he presented during the 2022 American Academy of Optometry (AAOpt) annual meeting in San Diego.

Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.


Hi, everyone. I'm Kassi Jackson with Optometry Times, and I'm joined today by Dr. Graham Erickson, professor at Pacific University in Oregon. He's here to share highlights from his discussion titled, "Evidence-based refractive prescribing for pediatric patients," which he's presenting during the 2022 American Academy of Optometry meeting this year in San Diego. Thank you for being here. Dr. Erickson, tell us about your talk.


Oh, thank you for having me. I think that in the area of pediatric eye care, as optometrists, we have 2 significant challenges. And the first is getting the information we need to make decisions about these young patients who can be challenging sometimes to examine. But the second part of it is, what do we do with that information? How do we make the best decisions for our patients?

And one of the biggest areas as optometrist that we have to contend with is refractive error, because it is common to find refractive errors in our young patients. But we also know that there are growth factors that will help sort of self-correct those refractive errors in many cases. So prescribing may not be necessary. And that's our challenge. We are stuck between should I correct this refractive error? Or should I sort of let it ride and let nature take its course, and there's no need to provide refractive correction? So that's really the focus...

I think we've learned a lot from research in the past 20 to 30 years, that helped guide those kinds of decisions about the timing, the amount of refractive error, the amount of correction to provide to these patients when it is required.

And that's where I will spend the hours, is going through each of those refractive errors one at a time, [and] make sure we understand all the parameters and the decision mechanisms to make hopefully the best decisions for our patients.


Yeah, and you kind of just alluded to it, but why is this so important for optometrists to address?


Well, I think that, you know, the main challenge with vision care is sometimes identifying problems early enough to make a significant impact and avoid some of the long term complications if things go undetected and uncorrected for too long. And so, you know, the challenge for optometry is if we do detect a problem, when should we intervene? And what is the best intervention? So I think that's why it's important to optometry...

Refraction is sort of our home. This is this is our expertise. And so we're the ones making those decisions.


Absolutely. And then what do those decisions mean for patient care?


Well, patient care, it means the difference between my little princess wearing their glasses, or you know, maybe that's not the best option. And sometimes it's even, you know, would a contact lens prescription be a better route for this patient? And so it's really helping the families who really have no idea what's going on or what the best decisions are to understand better and help make the best decisions for their child.


Dr. Erickson, thank you so much for your time today.

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