Eye Exams for Kids: Just As Important As Visits to Pediatrician

The importance of eye exams for kids cannot be stressed enough when it comes to the overall health of your child. As a parent, visits to the optometrist are just as important as visits to the pediatrician. You may not realize if an eye problem is growing in your child until it’s too late. An optometrist is trained to detect visual problems early enough, and suggest effective treatments. There are a number of conditions that can lead to permanent vision loss, if left untreated for long.

When should you schedule the first eye exam?

Healthy vision is one of the essentials to your kid’s ability to learn new things and achieve their full potential. You should schedule an eye exam when your kid is as young as six months. That’s right. During infancy, their vision changes constantly. At six months, their visual acuity tends to sharpen, which is why you should ensure that their eyes work normally, and most importantly, perform their tasks as a team. In cases where one or both eyes are affected, it could lead to poor vision in the long term.

As your kid turns 1 to 3 years, you should also consider scheduling an eye exam to monitor how the development of their eyes progresses. At 5 or 6, just before taking your child to kindergarten, you should schedule more exams to ensure poor vision does not interfere with their learning. If your child needs to use contact lenses or eye glasses, then they should have more exams, according to your optometrists’ recommendations. Do not assume that school screening is adequate; some vision issues may be missed.

What can be detected in a children’s eye exam?

Children’s eye exam is meant to identify a number of vision problems as well as monitor their development. Remember that if problems are identified, early treatment is initiated to prevent bigger visual problems that may arise down the road. The exam includes:

• Eye/hand coordination

• Peripheral awareness

• Focusing skills

• Eye movement skills

• Eye teaming skills (binocularity)

• Distance vision

• Near vision

• Astigmatism

Your pediatrician or family doctor will likely be the first health professional to examine your child, and refer you to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for further evaluation if problems are noted. These professionals use specific equipment and have been trained to detect and diagnose any vision issues.

An exam involves taking some general information, including eye health examination, testing eye alignment, determination as to whether eyeglasses are necessary or not, visual testing, and a case history. The health practitioner may also ask the mother if they experienced any complications during delivery or birth, especially for children below 1 year. They may also inquire about the child’s medical history, which includes past and present allergies, as well as current medications the child takes. Be sure to give the doctor all the information they need.

Just because your child seems to do well and has no indication of an eye problem does not necessarily mean that they are not at risk. Make trips to your eye doctor and schedule an eye exam just to be on the safe side. The exams are not scary. In fact, they can be very fun with the right optometrist.