When Should You Have Your Child’s First Eye Exam?
It is difficult to know what your child needs even when they can talk and express themselves, but when they can’t, it is nearly impossible. You likely take your child in monthly, then yearly, for well-child visits, but when should you have their eyes examined? There are many signals that your child or toddler might be sending that their vision is less than perfect. If you don’t know what to look for, however, those signs can be easily missed.
Children’s eye care shouldn’t be put off until they enter school. Their eye health begins as soon as they are born, and should be closely monitored to ensure that their development is optimal. Vision is a very necessary tool for a child’s development. If they aren’t seeing correctly, or have limitations, it might limit their milestones or slow down their learning.
It is reasonable to have your pediatrician examine your child during regular visits for vision concerns, but there are times when seeing a professional children’s eye exam Winnipeg professional, might be a better solution. If you have a family history of eye problems or conditions, seeing a professional early on is not only warranted — it is an excellent idea. Certain conditions can be tested for more effectively if you bring your child to a doctor who specializes in eye health.
Even if you don’t see any problems that might signal vision concerns and there are no history predispositions to consider, you should have your child’s eyes checked before six months, before three years and then again before first grade, to ensure that you aren’t missing any signs of trouble.
Most states mandate a vision test before a child enters the public school system. If you haven’t noticed any concerns and even if your pediatrician has done regular check-ups, you really should have your child examined by a licensed optometrist. If you notice any of the following, seeing an optometrist before school is definitely a great idea:
- Not liking school
- Having a difficult time paying attention
- Having a hard time writing and reading
- Not being able to see the chalkboard
- Double vision or blurriness
- Eye pain or headaches
- Taking longer than expected to complete homework
- Overall poor school performance
An eye care evaluation should be part of your child’s annual exam to make sure that there aren’t any significant changes in them as they grow. If your child wears glasses or if you think they need to be evaluated for them, then there are three different types of doctors you can see to evaluate your child for any eye care problems.
An ophthalmologist is a professional who provides eye care to your child using various eye exam procedures. They can diagnose eye care conditions, prescribe corrective lenses, treat any eye conditions, or perform eye surgery when necessary.
An optometrist is an eye care professional who can likewise give eye exams, diagnose common eye conditions, prescribe corrective lenses, treat eye diseases and diagnose eye problems. The only difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist is that an optometrist is not trained to treat complex eye conditions or to perform surgical procedures.
An optician is a professional who fits, assembles, sells and fills prescriptions for both eyeglasses and contact lenses. They do not provide eye exams.
What to expect during an eye exam
When you take your child for their first exam, you might want to prepare them for the tests that will likely be performed.
Inspecting the eye
The eye care professional will inspect your child’s eye thoroughly. They will check to ensure that the pupil is reacting correctly to the reflection of light and will test for various eye muscle movements.
As your child gets a little older, the eye care doctor will probably examine the back of the eye, which can be slightly uncomfortable.
Corneal light reflex testing
The health care professional will use a small flashlight to examine the cornea. By shining light into the eye, they can determine how well the pupils are working.
To diagnose any misalignment of the eye, the health care provider will ask your child to focus on a particular target and then cover each eye independently to examine how the focus shifts.
Visual acuity testing
The professional will use an age-appropriate eye chart and ask the child to read what is on it. They will be asked to close one eye at a time. It is important to specifically make your child understand that they must not “peek,” as it will change the results.
It is never too early to have your child’s eyes examined, especially if you have a family history or notice signs that seem troubling to you. Make sure that an eye exam is a part of their annual checkups.