The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus all advise that vision screenings should begin at birth and continue at every well-child doctor’s visit until three years old, then annually until five, and every one to two years thereafter. Here are further guidelines for when your child should receive a vision examination.
BIRTH TO THREE YEARS OLD
A baby’s first eye examination typically occurs immediately after birth. These newborn screenings are especially important for babies with a family history of eye and vision problems or with obvious eye irregularities at birth. At six months, a baby’s ability to focus and see a wider range of colors sharpens. At this point, eye exams should become a normal part of visits to the pediatrician’s office.
From six months through three years of age, vision screening should broaden to more comprehensive eye examinations, and signs of farsightedness or nearsightedness, and problems such as lazy eye (amblyopia) and crossed eyes (strabismus) may be noted. Without proper treatment amblyopia and strabismus will become permanent thus early diagnosis and intervention are necessary.
THREE TO FIVE YEARS OLD
From three to five years old, children should continue to have regular vision screening tests for visual acuity (testing the sharpness of vision) as well as continuing to look for abnormalities in eye alignment and strength. If the child hasn’t needed glasses previously but is showing signs of difficulty with visual focus, they may need a comprehensive examination and glasses. By correcting vision or implementing a habit of glasses wearing before the start of elementary school, parents will be helping their children to succeed academically in the years to come.
From three months to five years of age, a child needs a comprehensive eye examination, which is more in depth than a vision screening, if any of the following are noted:
- Lack of ability focus well on objects
- One or both eyes appear to not be straight (whether all the time or intermittently)
- Either parent has a history of serious eye problems
- One eyelid droops
- Either or both eyes waters excessively
AFTER FIVE YEARS OLD
After the age of five, children should continue to have routine vision screenings. Children without any vision or eye problems may have examinations at their pediatrician’s office, but those who are experiencing headaches, are squinting frequently, or seem to be having difficulty seeing well in class should have an examination by an eye doctor. Those wearing glasses or contacts already should have annual eye exams by their eye doctor to screen for changes in vision. Regular screenings for vision changes will ensure that the child has the proper prescription eyeglasses or contacts, which will minimize visual problems at school and in other activities.
Regardless of age, a child should have a comprehensive eye examination if they exhibit any of the following:
- Squinting to see or read
- Complaint of blurry vision or double vision
- Excessive blinking
- Red eyes not related to crying
- Eye discharge of any kind
If your child is in need of a routine vision screening or a more comprehensive eye examination, the doctors at Silverstein Eye Centers are here to help. We will not only examine your child’s eyes but provide guidance and support through any necessary treatment. We want your child to have the best vision possible to ensure his or her ability to succeed. To schedule an eye examination, please call us today at 816-358-3600.