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When Should a Child have their First Eye Exam?

If you have a child, you are familiar with the many doctor’s visits you will have to bring your kid back and forth to. Another doctor visit you should be thinking about is a visit to the optometrist– in fact, you should be planning on this regardless of whether or not vision issues run in your family. The suggested age for your child’s first optometrist visit may also be younger than you think.



 

If you are ready to book an eye exam for your child we have more information about kids eye exams specifically HERE and you can also head to our booking page.



 


When to Take a Child to the Eye Doctor


A visit to the eye doctor is recommended when a child reaches 6 months of age. However, this can be postponed from anywhere up to 2 years of age if the child is not exhibiting any signs of vision impairment or issues.


This first appointment is for a baseline exam. During this exam, the goal is to prevent or diagnose any longer term eye conditions. As is the case with any eye condition, it is important to catch and treat these as early as possible.


t is recommended that between the ages of 3 and 5 that children receive at least one more comprehensive eye exam. They should then receive annual eye exams.


It is important to note that these eye exams are not the same as the vision screenings that your child might take part in at school. These vision screening tests are still a great tool, but they do not necessarily test for many of the issues that would turn up during a thorough eye exam.


Some of these issues include eye health issues, as well as vision issues such as issues with depth perception, peripheral vision, or astigmatism.


Signs Your Child Needs to See the Eye Doctor


If your child is showing any signs of a potential eye issue, it is crucial to get them to an optometrist, regardless of their age. Any sort of vision issue could potentially interfere with your child’s education and mental development, since most learning is done visually– through reading and writing, for example.


Some of the signs that your child needs to see the eye doctor are as follows. For example, if he or she is experiencing headaches or tired eyes, this may be caused by farsightedness. Farsightedness is when a person has issues seeing objects that are close by. Squinting or heavy blinking could be a sign of blurred vision, and eye alignment issues may be indicated by head tilting.


Additionally, when a child reads with their fingers, they may have double vision, and those who experience issues with hand eye coordination could be suffering from a lazy eye.


You should pay extra attention to these behaviours in order to catch potential eye issues, because your child does not know how to recognize if they are experiencing vision impairment– they have likely lived with it since birth and think it is normal! As always, a parent should trust their gut. If they have a feeling that their child is struggling with vision issues, they should call in and make an appointment in order to have their child’s eyesight examined.


Other Reasons to Take Your Child to the Eye Doctor


Even though your child may not be exhibiting any of the previously mentioned signs, such as head tilting or poor hand eye coordination, you may still need to take him or her in for an appointment with an optometrist. This is due to some other warning signs, which could pop up at any age. After all, there are many children and adults who have had perfect vision and then began to experience vision issues. Some of these warning signs are as follows:


  • Failing a vision screening

  • Being referred by a nurse or a doctor

  • The vision screening is inconclusive or cannot be performed successfully

  • You have a family history of any eye problems, such as strabismus or refractive errors

  • Your child has a vision complaint

  • You notice any sort of abnormal vision behaviour in your child

  • Your child has an existing medical issue like prematurity or Down Syndrome


Frequently Asked Questions


When should kids have their first vision appointment?

Kids can have their first vision appointment when they are 6 months old, but this can be prolonged until about 2 years of age. Of course, the earlier, the better– especially if there is a family history of any vision issues!


When should a baby see the optometrist for the first time?


If you begin to see your baby acting strangely, such as not making eye contact with family and friends or their eyes do not follow faces or objects, your baby may have vision issues and should be brought to see an eye doctor. Regardless of whether or not you notice your baby having vision issues, you should bring them in for their first eye appointment when they are aged about 6 months.


How do you know if a toddler needs glasses?


There are some signs that your child might have vision issues and be in need of glasses. These signs include squinting, rubbing eyes excessively, or tilting the head or closing one eye to see. Headaches or eye pain are also big clues as to whether your child may be experiencing vision problems. If this is the case, you should make an appointment with an optometrist as soon as you can to get it evaluated.


How do they do an eye exam for a child?


A child’s eye exam is similar to the eye exam you would experience as an adult, since the same process is required to evaluate a person’s vision. The eye doctor will perform vision screenings using visual aides like eye charts. They will also perform a physical eye exam of your child’s eyes.


How often should I get my child’s eyes tested?


This is usually determined by your eye doctor after your child’s first appointment. However, they will usually recommend that you set up either an annual appointment or come in for an appointment every 6 months.


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