The American Optometric Association recommends that children should have their first eye examination at age 6 months, then at 3 years of age, and then again before entering school. It is important to know that a vision screening by a child’s pediatrician or school is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye and vision examination by an optometrist.
An annual eye exam is important for everyone but especially essential for children due to their developing eyes and optical system. Our doctors will adapt the examination procedures, tests, and language to the age of the child. We want the eye exam to be a positive experience that does not frighten the child.
How should I prepare my child for an eye exam?
Make time to sit down and explain what will happen during the eye exam. Make sure your child knows that he or she will be asked to look at and identify objects for the optometrist. These could be random pictures, letters, or spots of light on the wall. Explain that the doctor may put eye drops into his or her eyes, but this will not hurt.
What will happen during the eye exam?
- Our doctors will carefully observe each eye as your child follows lights or toys.
- Verbal children will have their vision tested utilizing a computerized eye chart with either pictures or letters.
- Lights and a cover test may be used to determine if your children’s eyes are aligned properly.
- Some children may be given eye drops that may sting slightly and cause their vision to blur. The eye drops dilate their pupils, thus, allowing a better view of the structures inside the eye. These dilating drops also cause a temporary weakness of the focusing muscle of the eyes. This help the optometrist determine your child’s refractive error with more accuracy.
- At the end of the examination, our doctors will review the findings with you and your child and discuss a comprehensive management plan.
What if your child is resistant to wearing eyeglasses?
Defeating the stereotype that eyeglasses are “dorky” is half the battle with school-aged children. Getting your child to wear glasses without tearing them apart is the other. If your child is resistant to wearing glasses, point out those with familiar faces who also wear them. When children see relatives, cartoon characters or classmates wearing glasses, they are typically drawn to the attractiveness of someone they admire wearing them.