Part of being a good parent is teaching your children good habits when it comes to their health. Just as taking care of your children's teeth is important to their overall health, so is protecting their vision. A child can start to experience vision problems as early as preschool. Identification of eye health problems and vision issues in young children is crucial because they tend to respond better to treatment when they are diagnosed early.
What is involved in a children's eye exam?
Parents do not need to be concerned about eye exams for children, as they are not painful. Exams will include a medical history, testing of near and far vision, testing of eye alignment, and a corneal measurement.
Eye exams for children should begin at six months of age. By this time, babies are able to see as well as adults in terms of color vision, focusing ability, and depth perception. During your child's first eye exam, the doctor will check for refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism), eye movement ability, eye alignment, eye reaction to light and darkness, and general eye health issues.
When children reach preschool age, they should be seen by an eye doctor for physical examinations of their eyes. At this point vision screenings can be performed using eye charts, pictures, and letters. These tests measure children's visual acuity and their ability to see the form and details of objects.
Reasons for testing children's eyes
Early vision screenings are necessary to ensure that children have the visual skills they will need to perform well in school. Children who are unable to see print clearly and read a blackboard will have a hard time functioning in the classroom. It is also true that certain eye conditions like amblyopia, or lazy eye, need to be caught and corrected early. The sooner a potential issue with vision or eye health is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Performing children's eye exams
Typically, an eye exam for a child is similar to an eye exam for an adult. To assess whether an infant's eyes are developing normally, eye doctors will test the following:
Pupil response to the presence or absence of light.
Fixation: Are the baby's eyes able to follow an object as it moves?
Preferential looking: Cards with one blank side and one side with stripes are flashed to the baby to test vision capabilities.
Preschool age children can undergo eye exams even if they do not yet know their letters. Some common tests used to gauge visual acuity in children ages 3-5 include:
LEA symbols test
Random dot stereopsis
It is important to make sure your child's vision is properly functioning. Even if your child does not complain of eye problems, be sure to schedule a pediatric or adolescent eye examination.