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When Should My Child Have an Eye Exam?

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Young smiling girl holding a magnifying glass up to her face and sitting in front of a blurred out eye chart in the background.

When Should My Child Have Their First Eye Exam?

Your children’s health is extremely important. And while it would be difficult to overlook a cough or a fever, judging the quality of their eyesight can be a little harder to spot. In some cases, it could be bad, and you or your child might never know. Children won’t always be able to tell you how well they can see, and even the most dedicated parents might not notice issues present in a child’s vision.

That’s where eye doctors come in. While you’re likely aware that it’s important to get your child’s eyes checked regularly, you might not be sure when to bring them in to see a professional. So without further ado, let’s talk about why we need to have our children’s eyes checked and when to do it.

Why Do Kids Need Their Eyes Checked?

Especially when they’re infants, children can’t really tell you too much about their eyesight, except perhaps by the way they interact with you. An optometrist with experience treating children however, can tell parents everything they need to know about their kid’s eyes and confirm whether their visual development is on track.

Children do a lot of their learning through seeing, so making sure they’re able to visually capture all they need to in order to succeed and grow is important. Good vision will help them to learn at home, and when the time comes, allow them to fully participate in what’s going on in the classroom too.

When to See the Eye Doctor

When it comes to a child’s first appointment, parents should aim to bring them in sometime between 6 and 12 months old. After that, kids should see their eye doctor again at 3 years old, once before starting school, and then once a year after that. The general rule everyone should abide by is to see an eye doctor annually, and the same goes for children.

Early detection of eye disease and other conditions that can affect vision offer the best chance of preventing damage to a child’s eyes. At a young age, problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or lazy eye can also potentially be corrected so it’s important to address them as soon as possible.

Smiling mature optometrist examines a smiling young girl with an ophthalmoscope as her hold helps to hold her from behind.

Signs Your Child Needs to See an Eye Doctor

Although there are some benchmarks we can use to determine when a child ought to see an optometrist, every child is different. There are some telltale signs parents can be on the lookout for which help them determine if their child needs to see an eye doctor perhaps sooner than expected. For example, if your child is:

  • Seeing double
  • Complaining of tired eyes or headaches
  • Frequently tilting their head or covering one eye
  • Unable to focus or unwilling to read

They may be suffering from an eye condition and should undergo a comprehensive eye exam as soon as possible. In addition, if there is a history of eye disease in your family, you may wish to consult an optometrist earlier than generally recommended.

However, in some cases the child may not necessarily know that there is a problem with their vision. These cases will require you to be bit on the lookout for odd occurrences that could tip you off to any potential eyesight problems. For example, sometimes young children with poor eyesight will refer to everyone they see as Mom and Dad. While this could certainly just be kids being kids with their funny mannerisms, it can also indicate the inability to see clearly, and it is clues like this that can help lead us to a proper diagnosis and to help the child see better. 

Book Your Child’s Eye Exam Today

If your infant is between six to twelve months old, it’s time to bring them in to visit an eye doctor. On the other hand, if your child is older, but it’s been some time since you last brought them in, don’t wait to book your next appointment. At our Lincoln optometrist practice, our patients are our priority, and we take special care of your family’s vision needs. Book an appointment with us today!

Written by Dr. Jonathan Knutson

As a Doctor of Optometry, Dr. Knutson’s commitment to patients is his ongoing professional education. He takes pride in staying up-to-date as technology changes to ensure he can provide the latest and greatest care for your eyes. Dr. Knutson enjoys entertaining and is committed to providing a fun and enjoyable experience for his patients. He genuinely cares about his patients, placing utmost importance on the satisfaction of his care and products.
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