Regular eye exams are particularly important for children because their eyes change quickly and significantly due to muscle and tissue development. Even mild eyesight deficits can significantly impact your child’s life. School demands intense visual involvement through reading, writing, and computer use, and many extracurriculars such as sports and other physical activities require strong vision as well. Left untreated, a child may feel tired or have trouble concentrating in these environments.
According to research, a child should receive an initial eye screening between 6 and 12 months of age. After that, annual eye health and vision screenings should be performed to detect any abnormalities as the eyes develop. (unless otherwise recommended)
For newborns, an optometrist will examine the baby’s eyes and perform a test called the red reflex test, a basic indicator of eye health. If the baby is premature or at high risk of medical problems, has signs of abnormalities, or has a family history of serious vision disorders in childhood, the optometrist will perform a comprehensive eye exam.
A second eye health examination should be performed between 6 months and the child’s first birthday. This examination tests pupil responses in the presence and absence of light, involves a fixate and follow test to determine the child's ability to follow objects as they move, and utilizes a preferential looking test to assess their vision capabilities.
A preschooler’s visual acuity and eye alignment should be assessed between the ages of 3 and 3½. If the child receives a diagnosis of misaligned eyes (strabismus), lazy eye (amblyopia), refractive errors (astigmatism, myopia, hyperopia), or any other focusing problems, treatment should begin as soon as possible to ensure successful and long-lasting vision correction.
Many clear signs like squinting, tilting their head while reading or looking at something in front of them, holding reading materials close to their face, or complaining about things appearing blurry may indicate that your child has a vision problem. However, several less obvious actions may also indicate vision problems such as having a short attention span, losing their place while reading may also indicate vision problems, or avoiding or quickly losing interest in reading, drawing, playing games, or doing other activities that require using their eyes for an extended period of time,
Regular eye examinations with an optometrist and paying careful attention to your child’s mannerisms allow for an early diagnosis of any potential vision problems, affording your child better long-term vision and success in and out of school.