It’s a question we get a lot – what age should my child get their first eye exam? The American Optometric Association recommends children should get their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age, then again around 3, next around 5 or 6 before entering kindergarten, and school age kids should have their eyes examined annually. But is all that really necessary? What can you even tell from a six month old?
A lot of parents feel like they would be able to tell if their child was having vision problems – that they’d be bumping into things or sitting too close to the T.V. One of the things we check, even on infants, is if there is a large difference in prescription from one eye to another. Sometimes children will have no prescription in one eye and a very high prescription in the other eye resulting in little to no visual symptoms. This asymmetry in prescription however, still needs to be corrected by glasses and can result in permanently decreased vision out of the worse eye if it is not.
Another question we are asked is how can you tell if a baby needs glasses? Using a special light we can observe the reflection coming off the baby’s eye to determine a very accurate glasses prescription. Other things we look for at an infant eye exam is the ability to fixate on and follow an object, the presence of an eye turn, and the health of the structures of the eye.
Some children are at higher risk of vision problems and it is especially important not to delay an exam in these cases. For example, children with a sibling or parent with an eye turn or one or both parents with a high prescription.
As children get older we are able to add even more detailed tests to the exam including examination of the eye’s focusing system, how the eyes are working as a team, and a more detailed picture of any glasses prescription and health of the eyes.
All of the doctors at Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry are experienced in pediatric exams. Call us today to schedule an appointment for your little one.