At What Age Should My Child See the Eye Doctor?

At What Age Should My Child See the Eye Doctor?

Good vision is crucial for a child’s growth and development, from doing well in school to playing sports to participating in social activities. While older kids can let you know about a vision problem, younger ones may have trouble verbalizing their symptoms — or even realizing that something isn’t “normal.”

Since so much depends on your child’s eyesight, regular eye exams are critical to helping them succeed in every area of their lives — now and all the way through adulthood. 

Seeing the eye doctor regularly is a habit that needs to begin while your child is young. But how young? And how frequently should your child have an eye exam?

At ABC Children's Eye Specialists in Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona, we focus on the unique vision needs of kids of all ages, so they get the care they need to enjoy good vision and all of the benefits it brings. 

If you’re not sure when your child needs to see the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam, we have the answer.

Childhood eye exam recommendations

The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers guidelines for determining when a child should be evaluated by an eye doctor, and they urge you to start right away.

Screenings should occur in newborns to look for congenital (present at birth) problems, with additional screenings and exams at these ages:

If your child’s exam reveals an issue that needs frequent monitoring, we’re likely to recommend a schedule just for them.

That might seem like a lot of eye exams for someone so young. But because good vision plays a central role in development, it’s important to closely monitor your child’s eyes during these years of rapid growth to make sure any developing problems are caught and treated early.

Eye exam basics: What to expect

Depending on your child’s age and other factors, we may recommend a vision screening or a more in-depth comprehensive eye exam. Professional vision screenings typically are used in very young children and newborns to check for signs of specific vision problems that need to be corrected.

Comprehensive exams are routinely performed in school-age kids. During a comprehensive exam, we use eye drops to painlessly dilate (widen) your child’s pupils so we can see inside the eyes. This step allows the doctor to look for signs that a vision problem could form or may already be developing, so it can be treated, if not prevented.

While the type of evaluations we use may vary depending on the exam we’re performing, all evaluations are painless. During your child’s exam, we:

We also ask about any symptoms your child may be exhibiting, like trouble reading, squinting, rubbing their eyes, or headaches. 

If we determine your child could benefit from corrective lenses, we provide a prescription for glasses or contacts. We also have a shop on site to make getting glasses as easy as possible.

Office exam vs. school vision screening

Most schools offer vision screenings for kids in certain grades, leaving plenty of parents to wonder if they actually need a professional exam. The answer is yes — absolutely. 

A school vision screening is just that — a simple evaluation designed to look for specific vision issues that could become evident in a school environment, like difficulty seeing the board or reading, for instance. 

It’s not designed to look for more complex issues that may or may not be causing noticeable symptoms. Nor does it determine whether your child needs corrective lenses or, if they do, what prescription will benefit them.

Bottom line: While school vision screenings play an important role in your child’s eye health, they’re not intended to serve as a regular comprehensive eye exam.

Schedule your child’s visit today

Regular eye exams are one more way you can protect your child and give them a healthy future. To schedule an exam for your child, call our Phoenix or Mesa offices to book an appointment with the team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists today.

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