As a parent, you may wonder whether your pre-schooler has a vision problem or when a first eye exam should be scheduled.
Eye exams for children are extremely important. Experts say 5 percent-10 percent of pre-schoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child’s vision problem is crucial because, if left untreated, some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss.
When should kids have their eyes examined?
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about age 5 or 6.
For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or according to their eye doctor’s recommendations.
Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic visual skills for learning, especially in the classroom. Our exams will focus on the following skills required to successfully perform in the classroom setting.
- Near vision
- Distance vision
- Eye teaming (binocularity) skills
- Eye movement skills
- Focusing skills
- Peripheral awareness
- Eye/hand coordination
Because of the importance of good vision for learning, some states require an eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.
Signs that may indicate an immediate vision examination
- One eye drifts or aims in a different direction than the other (look carefully — this can be subtle). This is significant even if it only occurs when the child is tired, stressed or ill.
- Turns or tilts head to see
- Head is frequently tilted to one side or one shoulder is noticeably higher
- Frequent squinting or closing of one eye
- Excessive blinking or squinting
- Poor visual/motor skills (often called, “hand-eye coordination”)
- Problems moving in space, frequently bumps into things or drops things
- Appears to favor the use of one eye
Difficulty while reading
- Frequently loses one’s place when reading or copying from the board or paper
- Frequently skips words and/or has to re-read
- Repeatedly omits small words
- Uses finger to read
- Rubs eyes during or after short periods of reading
- Holds the book or object unusually close
- Closes one eye or covers eye with hand
- Twists or tilts head toward book or papers, etc.
- Struggles with handwriting
Any of the following complaints
- Only being able to read for short periods of time
- Headaches or eyestrain
- Nausea or dizziness
- Motion sickness
- Mouble vision
- Eye pain