At What Age Should My Child See the Eye Doctor?

Most parents take their children to the doctor each year for an annual physical, but many do not realize that eye exams are also important for kids. Did you know that about 25 percent of school kids have vision problems that affect their school performance? School-aged children should have regular eye exams, but in fact, these exams should start much earlier than the beginning of their school careers.

  • The first eye exam should be at about six months. During this exam, the doctor will perform several tests to make sure the baby’s eyes are functioning as they should. The responses of the pupils will be checked, and a test will be performed to see whether or not the baby’s eyes can fixate on and follow an object as it moves. The doctor will also perform a test of preferential looking, using cards that are blank on one side and have stripes on the other.
  • Children should have eye exams at about three years of age, and also around age five or six. Preschool eye tests don’t require kids to know letters, but instead, use LEA symbols on a chart. These symbols include an apple, a house, a square, and a circle, which preschoolers can easily recognize. LEA symbols on a chart include an apple, a house, a square, and a circle. The doctor will use retinoscopy in order to determine the child’s eyeglass prescription, and random dot stereopsis, which uses patterns of dots in conjunction with 3-D glasses to measure how well the eyes work together.
  • Eye exams should occur at least every one to two years during the school years. This way, the child’s doctor can detect problems that could have an impact on school performance. During these exams, the doctor will test the child’s focusing ability, depth perception, and color vision, as well as looking for common vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and other issues that include:
    • Lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, decreases vision in one or both eyes. There’s no detectable anatomic damage involved with this condition, and it’s not always correctable with glasses or contact lenses. Sometimes, it requires eye patching, which strengthens the weaker eye.
    • Misalignment of the eyes is also called strabismus. There are different reasons that eyes can become crossed or misaligned, like problems with muscle control in the eye. Strabismus is a common cause of lazy eye, but if it’s treated early in childhood, the child’s vision and eye teaming skills should be able to develop normally.
    • Some children have difficulty maintaining eye alignment when viewing near objects. This is called convergence insufficiency and can affect the child’s ability to read comfortably.
    • Anterior eye and eyelid health are important, too. The doctor will closely examine the child’s eyelids, looking for bumps, swelling, eye discharge, and abnormal or infected eyelashes, as well as looking at the cornea and lens to determine if there’s any cloudiness or other irregularity.

Whether they’re babies or school-aged, it’s important to find a qualified eye doctor to perform your children’s eye exams. If you’re looking for a pediatric eye doctor in Derry, Spindel Eye Associates is here for you. We provide eye exams for children of all ages, using the most advanced technology and latest techniques. If your child needs glasses, we also carry a full range of kids’ glasses frames. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 603.421.6536 or contact us through our website