Pediatric Eye Exam

Regular eye exams are essential for children as they grow. In addition to making sure a child’s eyes are healthy and free of disease comprehensive eye exams ensure a child’s eyesight and vision is not limiting their potential. Good vision is critical for normal development, academic success, sports performance, social interaction and most activities of daily life. One in five preschool aged children have vision problems such as high refractive error, amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (wandering eye) that require early intervention. One in four school aged children require the use of glasses or contact lenses to see clearly.

When is the right time for a child’s comprehensive eye exam?

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that a child should have their first eye exam between 6 and 12 months of age. InfantSEE®, a public health program managed by The AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes a part of infant wellness care. Under this program an infant 6-12 months of age may receive a no-cost comprehensive eye and vision assessment regardless of family income or access to insurance coverage.

A child’s next eye exam should be between 3 and 5 years old and again at 6 years old. School aged children should receive comprehensive, in person, eye exams every year. If a child requires corrective lenses or has other diagnosed vision problems they may need to be seen more often.

Are vision screenings at school or the pediatricians the same as a comprehensive eye exam?

Vision screenings check for blurred vision at distance. Comprehensive eye exams evaluate vision at distance and near to determine the need for glasses AND evaluate eye muscle teaming and tracking, focusing ability, color vision, depth perception and overall eye health. A vision screening is not a replacement for a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist.

What are some signs that my child may have a vision or eye problem?

Many vision and eye problems are difficult for parents and caregivers to detect. Children are incredibly adaptable and don’t have a point of comparison when it comes to their vision. Most children assume their vision is “normal” and that everyone sees the world the way they do. However, here are a few red flags to watch for: squinting, holding reading material very close, short attention span or limited interest in near activities such as reading and coloring, closing an eye frequently, excessive blinking or eye rubbing, tilting or turning head to the side when looking straight ahead, excessive clumsiness, red or teary eyes and a cloudy/white appearing pupil.

What can I expect during my child’s comprehensive eye exam?

Every child’s eye exam is geared toward their developmental capabilities and interests. InfantSEE® and toddler eye exams employ objective testing through the use of lights and games to determine a child’s need for glasses, eye alignment and eye health. Preschoolers can take an active role in eye exams and begin to provide more reliable responses on color vision, depth perception and visual acuity (often in the form of shapes, numbers or a limited selection of letters). Eye exams become more similar to adult eye exams for school aged children and beyond. If it is your child’s first eye exam, or if your doctor feels it is necessary, an eye dilation will be recommended. Eye dilation drops are safe even for the youngest child and allow your doctor to check the internal health of your child’s eyes and determine the need for corrective lenses. Children may experience blurred near vision and light sensitivity with the dilation drops lasting 2 – 24 hours.

​​​​​​​Your doctor at the Eye Care Center will work with you and your child to make the eye exam a positive experience and put a plan in place to address concerns and alleviate symptoms.

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