At Moreland Eyecare in Anna, Illinois, we are proud to offer pediatric eye care services. We believe in the importance of your child’s eye health, and early eye exams are recommended.
When should you schedule your child’s first eye exam?
As a parent, you may wonder whether your preschooler has a vision problem or when you should schedule your child’s first eye exam.
Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child’s vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.
For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning:
- Near vision
- Distance vision
- Binocular (two eyes) coordination
- Eye movement skills
- Focusing skills
- Peripheral awareness
- Hand-eye coordination
For these reasons, some states require a mandatory eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.
Their First Eye Exam
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says on its website that your family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes.
If eye problems are suspected during routine physical examinations, a referral might be made to an eye doctor for further evaluation. Eye doctors have specific equipment and training to assist them with spotting potential vision problems.
When scheduling an eye exam for your child, choose a time when he or she usually is alert and happy.
Specifics of how eye exams are conducted depend on your child’s age, but generally the exams will include a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health evaluation and, if needed, prescription of eyewear.
After you have made the appointment, you may be sent a case history form by mail. Some eye care practices even have forms on their website that you can download and print at home, before your visit. Or you may not receive a form until you check in at the doctor’s office.
The case history form will ask about your child’s birth history (also called perinatal history), including birth weight and whether or not the child was full-term.
Your eye doctor also may ask whether complications occurred during the pregnancy or delivery. Other questions will concern your child’s medical history, including current medications and past or present allergies.
Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has or displays any of the following:
- A history of prematurity
- Delayed motor development
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Excessive blinking
- Failure to maintain eye contact
- Inability to maintain a gaze (fixation) while looking at objects
- Poor eye tracking skills
Also, be sure to mention if your child has failed a vision screening at school or during a visit to his or her pediatrician.
Your eye doctor also will want to know about previous eye problems and treatments your child has had, such as surgeries and glasses or contact lens wear.
And be sure to inform your eye doctor about any family history of eye problems requiring vision correction, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness (refractive errors), lazy eye (strabismus/amblyopia) or eye diseases.
CONTACT US at Moreland Eyecare in Anna to schedule your child’s eye examination today!