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The Importance of Childhood Eye Exams

Your child’s vision development plays an important role in his or her capacity to learn and to socialize with others. The longer a vision problem goes unnoticed, the harder for the brain to accommodate the impairment. 

Children should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. They next time they should have their eyes examined is age 3 and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6. Children who need eyeglasses or contacts should have their vision evulated atleast once a year, more if vision trouble persues.

Even if your child does not show any signs of vision problems it is still important to get yearly eye exams for early detection of potential vision problems. It is important to note that a vision screening is not the same as a comprehensive eye exam. 

Signs Your Child Might Need an Eye Exam

If your child does any of the following it is important to schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. 

  • Squinting
  • Tilting head or covering one eye
  • Sitting too close to the television or holding hand-held devices too close to the eyes
  • Rubbing eyes or blinking excessively
  • Complaining of headaches or eye pain
  • Family history of eye diseases
  • Failure of a vison screening at the pediatricians office or school 

What to Expect at the Eye Doctors

You can take your child to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam. An optometrist diagnoses, treats and manages vision changes. This includes testing sight and prescribing and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.

An ophthalmologist does the same, plus diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, and performs eye surgery.

You can expect the phsycian to access:

  • Visual acuity: clarity or sharpness of vision
  • Strabismus (crossed eyes) and eye alignment
  • Depth perception
  • Overall health of the inside and outside of the eye
  • Indications of more serious eye conditions

Most children will have no problem getting an eye exam. However, if your child is uncomfortable in new situations, prepare him for what to expect.