When Is the Right Time for Children to Have Eye Exams?


Being a parent is tough and demanding. Your head is all around the place and your primary goals are the safety and well-being of your child. Doing regular check-ups is highly recommended for keeping an eye on your child’s health.

Children are fast in development and certain problems can occur without any significant alarming signs. With proper health care during early childhood, a lot of more complicated conditions can be prevented. So when is the right time for your child to have an eye exam?

The Facts

According to the experts, the best time for a first eye exam is at 6 months of age. If all goes well, the next ones should be done at age 3 and then before school (5/6).

After that eye exams should be made once in a year or two. Statistics show that 1 in 4 children have undetected vision problems and that 25 % of Canadian school-age children have eye conditions as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. If not treated properly those conditions will worsen.

Unfortunately, only 14 % of preschool children get regular eye care. This may be the exact reason for the previous numbers.

Exams for Infants and Preschoolers

The eye exams which will be conducted will vary depending on the age of your child.

For infants, optometrists conduct tests which check pupil response (proper opening and closing of the pupil, depending on absence and presence of light), fixation and following of objects; and preferential looking. The quality of sight when it comes to focusing, color and depth perception is the same for a 6 month old baby and for an adult. In fact fixation on objects is perfected by the first 4 months of age.

For pre-school children, tests are very different. The child’s vision is tested with LEA symbols, retinoscopy and random dot stereopsis. LEA symbol testing for children uses special charts with symbols (square, dog, house) instead of letters.

Retinoscopy provides information about proper eye reflection and refraction. This concludes whether your child need to wear glasses or not. The last test measures how well both of your child’s eyes work together. It is done with 3D glasses, so it may be fun for the child too.

Helpful Tips

Definitely schedule an appointment at the optometrist or ophthalmologist if you have a family history of eye problems. Also parents have great instinct so follow your gut and intuition, start looking for some signs that your child need to visit the doctor as difficulty keeping attention, frequent eye rubs, dropping of eye lids, excessive blinking, slow eye tracking, frequent headaches and getting easily tired.

With frequent exams, lazy eye or medically known as amblyopia can be detected, stopper and even fixed with proper treatment and conditions. You can choose to go to an ophthalmologist which specializes in children eye care.

Some problems cannot be solved by going to the pediatrician. He/ She are the one that will help in detecting a certain problem, but not in preventing or curing it. Also, you must mention to the doctor if you had premature birth, a delayed motor development for your child and family history of troubling eye conditions.