Children’s Eye Exam

Eye exams for children are extremely important. Experts say 5 -10 percent of pre-school aged children and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child's vision problem is crucial because, if left untreated, some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their  first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about  age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or according to their eye doctor’s recommendations.

Your family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child's eyes. If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral might be made to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for further evaluation. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to help them detect and diagnose potential vision problems.

When scheduling an eye exam, choose a time when your child is usually alert and happy. An exam for a child generally will involve a case history (what’s wrong), vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health examination and a consultation with you regarding the findings.

Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has a history of prematurity, has delayed motor development, engages in frequent eye rubbing, blinks excessively, fails to maintain eye contact, cannot seem to maintain a fixed gaze while looking at objects, has poor eye tracking skills or has failed a pediatrician or pre-school vision screening.