For young children who aren’t yet reading or enrolled in school, it can be easy to put off a trip to the eye doctor. However, it’s important that children receive regular and comprehensive eye examinations beginning at 6 months of age and at regular intervals following that to keep the eyes healthy.
How often do children need eye examinations?
For children with no risk factors, symptoms or family histories of eye problems, it is recommended that they have a comprehensive eye exam at age 6 months, again at age 3, and again before first grade. Some eye care professionals recommend that children have an annual eye exam, while others recommend one every two years. It is important that children receive one comprehensive eye exam before beginning public school. Problems with sight in young school-aged children don’t always present in the same way as they do for adults. Often, children with eye issues have trouble focusing on school work or sometimes even express a disinterest in attending school. If your child is experiencing any issues at school, be sure to have their eyes tested if they haven’t been recently.
Common eye issues in children
Some of the most common eye issues in children include amblyopia, or a ‘lazy eye’, strabismus, or a misalignment of the eyes, and common issues with vision such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, which are treated with corrective lenses.
How to prepare children for an eye exam
Children are seen either by an Ophthalmologist – a medical doctor specializing in eye care – or an Optometrist. An Optician will help you select and size the appropriate eye wear for your child if it is required.
It’s important to remember, too, that children do not need to know how to read to undergo an eye examination.
To prepare your child for an eye exam, it can help to ‘act out’ or simulate a visit to the eye doctor’s office. Be sure to explain to your child what will take place, and answer any questions they may have. Explain to your child that they may require eye drops, as well.
The more you talk about what your child should expect, the more comfortable they will feel during their visit to the eye doctor’s office.