During their early years, children are rapidly developing many visual skills which are important to their learning abilities. If you are old enough to remember the chalkboards used in schools, you might recall some of the challenges reading and deciphering those lessons. With today’s technology, the learning environment has changed significantly, and with that the importance of ensuring your child’s eyesight is performing at its optimal level.
Here is an example of what to expect when your child visits the eye doctor.
When Should Your Child have an Eye Exam?
Your family or pediatric doctor will usually be able to refer you to an eye doctor in the Boca Raton area (such as Dr. Steve) that specializes in eye examinations for young children. If you are already seeing an eye doctor that you like, just ask them if they specialize in children’s eyes. Some optometrists have specialties in certain eye conditions or age groups and it’s quite common for one optometrist to refer their patients to another eye specialist.
Pediatricians usually perform some basic eye tests to check for any obvious abnormalities, and will refer you to an eye specialist if anything is noted.
Your infant should see an eye doctor for their first comprehensive eye examination when they are around six months old.
If there are no abnormalities noted, then schedule the next eye exam at three years old.
The next optimal time for an eye exam is just prior to going into kindergarten, as this is when they are starting to learn to use their eyes for learning. If they can’t read the books or other teaching materials properly, it may impact their intellectual development.
As your child progresses through school, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends having a regular eye exam for your child every two years. If there are conditions which necessitate contact lenses or eyeglasses, then consult with your eye care professional for a more frequent checkup, usually once per year.
3 years old
5 or 6 years old
then every 2 years while in school
Dr. Steve has been performing eye exams for children that attend schools in Palm Beach county and surrounding areas since 1990. If your child attends school in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach or Pompano Beach, then call our office and schedule an eye exam for your amazing child.
A Child’s basic visual skills
Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic visual skills for learning:
Near vision (reading from books for example)
- Distance vision (reading things like information on a poster on a wall from across the room)
- Eye movement skills (being able to follow the teacher’s movements and pointing to objects)
- Focusing skills (from reading a book to looking up at the teacher’s presentation)
- Peripheral awareness (this is good for sports)
- Eye/hand coordination (motor coordination, picking up and handling objects)
Prior to Your Child’s Eye Exam
The most accurate diagnosis occurs when your child is alert and in a good mood, so perhaps schedule the appointment after they’ve normally had a nap or just after school.
You will also need to provide your child’s health history to make the eye doctor aware of any conditions which may affect the health of the eyes. Your family doctor or pediatrician will be able to provide that information for you.
Your eye doctor will want to be aware of items like:
- Pregnancy complications
- Birth weight and height
- Current weight & height
- Current medications
- Surgical procedures
- Any history of eye problems with the parents such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, glaucoma, diabetes, misaligned eyes or lazy eye.
You may be aware of certain visual behaviors in your child that may warrant noting. It’s always to be safe than sorry. For example:
- Frequent rubbing of the eyes
- Excessive blinking
- They do not maintain eye contact when talking to you or others
- They seem to “stare into space”, not really focusing on the object at hand.
Optometrists and ophthalmologists went to optometry school primarily because they have a passion for helping their patients enjoy healthy vision for their entire life. That is why you are encouraged to bring your child in for regular eye examinations in their early years. By introducing the habit of regular eye exams at a early age, your children will be more likely to continue this behavior into their adult years and ultimately instilling this discipline into their children as well.