When Should My Child Have an Eye Exam?

Healthy eyes and vision are a critical part of childhood development. Your child’s eyes should be examined regularly, as many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and treated early.

Vision problems can affect not only an infant’s ability to develop good hand-eye coordination, but also depth perception and other basic skills. Having poor vision can cause your child to do poorly at school or in sports, prompting anger and frustration.

Having regular eye exams are important for your child’s overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, studies have shown that only one in three children ages 6 to 16 has had a comprehensive eye exam within the past year. Another study estimates that 90 percent of school-age children who need prescription glasses do not have them.

Eye Exam Schedule

Most ophthalmologists recommend that children receive comprehensive eye exams at certain ages and milestones:

• Newborns should be examined for possible congenital eye problems by their pediatrician as soon as possible.
• High-risk newborns (including premature infants), those with a family history of eye problems, and those with obvious eye irregularities should be examined by an eye doctor.
• Around age 3½, kids should have eye health screenings and visual acuity tests (tests that measure sharpness of vision) which will determine whether they need glasses to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
• A follow-up exam around the age of 5 to compare present vision to the previous exam is recommended.
• From then on, it is recommended to have a yearly eye exam for children who need glasses. If no glasses are required, bi-annual eye exams are advised.
At the Optician

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