As a parent or guardian, it is common to wonder when eye exams for children are necessary, and it’s always good to test for children’s vision problems. Luckily, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has outlined when children should have checkups. Identifying vision problems early on is crucial since children often are more responsive to treatment when diagnosed early.

The American Optometric Association states that infants should have their first eye exam at 6 months. Afterward, children should receive additional eye exams at age 3, and again before entering first grade. For school-aged children, the AOA suggests an exam every two years if no vision correction is necessary. Children requiring glasses or contact lenses should receive comprehensive eye exams for children annually by their optometrist.

Furthermore, the AOA asserts that children considered at risk for the development of eye and vision problems may need extra testing or more periodic re-evaluation. Circumstances putting an infant or child at notable risk for ocular impairment include:

  1. Prematurity, low birth weight, oxygen at birth, grade III or IV intraventricular hemorrhage
  2. Family history of retinoblastoma, high refractive error, congenital cataracts, or metabolic or genetic disease
  3. Infection of mother during pregnancy (e.g., rubella, toxoplasmosis, venereal disease, herpes, cytomegalovirus, or AIDS)
  4. Difficult or assisted labor, which may be associated with fetal distress or low Apgar scores
  5. High refractive error
  6. Strabismus, also known as “lazy eye” or “eye turn”
  7. Anisometropia
  8. Known or suspected central nervous system dysfunction evidenced by developmental delay, cerebral palsy, dysmorphic features, seizures, or hydrocephalus

Scheduling Eye Exams For Children

According to the AOA’s website, a family doctor or pediatrician likely will be the first medical professional to examine your child’s eyes. If eye issues appear during routine physical examinations, the family is referred to an eye doctor. Optometrists and ophthalmologists have the necessary equipment and requisite training to assist with detecting potential vision problems.

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