Eye Exam for Children: Why It’s Important

eye exam for children

We wouldn’t think that an eye exam for children is necessary unless our kid is complaining of not being able to see. Children may complain they can’t see the blackboard at school or that they can’t focus on the letters in their school books. However, you’d be surprised to know that a oftentimes, kids don’t know that their sight is affected until they wear a pair of glasses and a new world opens in front of them. That’s why is very important to perform an eye exam for children.

Doesn’t the school hold an eye screening?

An eye screening is not the same as a professional eye exam and it shouldn’t replace it. Vision screenings are a valuable public service, which may identify many serious vision problems requiring professional care. However, a vision screening doesn’t have the sensitivity or specificity of a professional eye exam. It’s up to the parents to make an appointment with an eye doctor to get a professional exam done.

How do I know when I need to do an eye exam for my child?

There are several signs that indicate your kid could have an eye or vision problem. According to the American Public Health Association, about 10% of kids from the age 2-5 have eye or vision problems but they often don’t voice their concerns or aren’t able to indicate what is wrong with them.
A few signs of something going wrong with their vision are rubbing their eyes, sitting too close to the tv or putting a book to close, squinting like making an effort to focus, and more can be found here.

The American Optometric Association states: “Passing a vision screening can give parents a false sense of security. Many preschool vision screenings only assess one or two areas of vision. They may not evaluate how well the child can focus his or her eyes or how well the eyes work together. Generally color vision, which is important to the use of color coded learning materials, is not tested.” Therefore, if you think your child could be suffering from an eye or vision problem, trust your gut and make an appointment!

How to prepare for an eye exam for children?

The American Optometric Association advises to make an appointment early in the day and allow at least 1 hour of your time for this. Try to explain the eye examination for children in terms they can understand “comparing the E chart to a puzzle and the instruments to tiny flashlights and a kaleidoscope.” Should everything come back ok, your next eye appointment should be at the age of 5, or, if your children are older, as per your optometrist’s recommendation.

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