Taking care of a child comes with the responsibility of organizing their various healthcare appointments. From visiting the family doctor, setting up playdates or scheduling their first haircut, it is easy to lose track of the recommended appointments. The frequency with which your child should get their eyes examined varies with their age. Listed below are the recommended frequencies for eye exams for your child, modified from the American Optometric Association. This may be subject to change if your optometrist has differing recommendations based on your child’s eye condition / risk level.
Recommended Eye Examination Frequency for Pediatric Patients and Adults
0 – 2 years: Eye exam between 6 – 12 months of age
Although young, infants are eligible to get their eyes examined. At birth, hospital staff often check for basic functioning of the eyes (i.e. eye movement, eye structure). Your optometrist can conduct the next exam sometime between 6 – 12 months of age, which consists of a variety of simple tests. At this age, optometrists are looking for any serious vision threatening disorders such congenital cataracts (an opacification of the lens inside the eye that prevents the child from seeing clearly) or a need for very high glasses prescriptions. Optometrists are also looking for eye turns that may be present at an infantile age.
3 – 5 years: At least one eye exam between 3 – 5 years old
During these years, a more thorough eye exam is possible and thus a need for medium to high prescription glasses can now be investigated. Eye turns may be more or less obvious at this point and need for treatment will now be assessed. An eye exam is key as a lack of corrective glasses or treatment for eye turns can interfere with early learning and visual development, leading to amblyopia. Amblyopia is when connections between the eye and brain do not form properly at a young age, causing reduced vision in that eye, and will be permanent if not corrected in early childhood.
6 – 17 years: Once before first grade then annually thereafter
Possible visual interference with learning is a key reason for annual eye examinations at this point. The absence of appropriate corrective lenses, treatment for eye turn, or ocular health examinations could affect the child’s learning during these important years. Myopia (nearsightedness) management is important and initiation of myopia control practices are crucial during the early stages.
Missed one of these marks? Not to worry. Better late than never! Book an appointment for your child with our optometrist today.