Children's Eye Exam
The importance of pediatric eye exams
While it's common practice for pediatricians to conduct a brief vision screening at your child’s annual physical, it is important to emphasize that these screenings are not a substitute for a thorough examination performed by an eye doctor.
Eye doctors utilize specific clinical and diagnostic tools and assessments to determine your child’s ocular health and visual abilities. Since many learning skills are dependent on the strength of visual skills such as binocular vision, accurate eye movements, the ability to see distant objects, etc., doctors recommend that children have their first eye exam even before reaching school age.
Vision screenings vs. comprehensive eye exams
Many schools conduct vision screenings to identify any vision problems that may affect a child’s ability to learn.
Even if your child has passed a school vision screening, it is still strongly recommended to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Vision screenings do not check for all the vision problems that can affect children.
When should my child have their first eye exam?
Eye doctors recommend that children have their first eye exam at six months of age to ensure that their eyes are developing normally.
After this initial visit, doctors recommend that you bring your child for a second eye exam every year or at least by age 2 or 3, and then again before they start school.
What to expect: Your child’s first eye exam
When meeting with your child’s eye doctor for the first time, be prepared to answer questions about your child’s birth history including any complications during pregnancy or delivery
Your doctor will also ask questions regarding family history of ocular disease, and your child’s medical history— including previous eye problems, treatments or surgeries, current medications and any allergies they may have.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any delay in motor development, and if you have noticed your child:
Sitting very closely to screens or holding books very closely
Constantly rubbing their eyes
Needing a finger to follow along while reading
Sensitivity to light
Reading or watching television with one eye closed
A drop in school performance
Squinting to see the board at school
Complaining that the computer screen hurts their eyes
Dilation will often times be performed on the initial exam to evaluate the back of the eye to check for growths, tears in the retina, and a host of other potential abnormalities. The earlier the eye doctors detect anything atypical in the eye the sooner treatment can be initiated.
In some cases, children are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder when in fact blurry vision causes the child to not focus well at school, and instead they focus on other tasks. Having your child's eye tested is an important part of a wellness exam. Clear vision will help your child learn better, and develop a variety of skills better. Do not wait until school is back in session before taking children to check their eyes. Help them succeed early on and maximize their visual ability.