When babies are born, their pediatricians will examine the eyes for congenital defects and abnormalities. As they get a little older, they will test their vision using pictures and special photographic equipment. However, these tests are only for screening purposes. Many children with vision problems will pass the tests given at their primary doctor’s office and the school vision screenings. As such, it’s critical to take your child to the eye doctor for a full evaluation around the age of three.
How can the doctor test young children?
Because very young children are not capable of some of the tests that adults complete during their eye exam, pediatric eye doctors use different techniques based on the child’s age and their ability to respond appropriately. Pediatric eye doctors rely more on ‘objective’ tests that do not require an accurate response from the child. Even newborn vision can be assessed using these specific techniques.
How often should children have eye examinations?
The American Optometric Association recommends children have a comprehensive evaluation around age three. If all is fine, examinations every other year are appropriate. However, if a visual or ocular problem is detected, your doctor may recommend more frequent evaluations.
Children rarely complain about their vision even when they are struggling to see well. They adapt to the world they way they see it and parents are usually unaware there is a problem. During the eye examination, the doctors can detect any developmental delays, vision defects, and problems that could lead to difficulties with reading and fine motor skills. Also, children who complain of headaches often have an underlying vision problem that may be missed at the pediatrician’s office. So, play it safe and have your child evaluated by an eye doctor who specializes in children.