Yes, I offer children’s eye exams, starting at four years old. As a doctor and a mother, I know how important these early eye exams are, and how they can avoid problems and obstacles in the child’s future.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends eye exams for children, by a pediatric eye doctor, at six months, at three years, at the start of school, and then at least every two years following. If parents notice any eye turns or squinting earlier in their kids, if there are any signs that there may be a vision problem or if the child has certain risk factors (such as developmental delays, premature birth, crossed or lazy eyes, family history or previous injuries), earlier and more frequent exams are recommended.
Vision Acquisition is a Process
A baby’ vision develops gradually over the first few months of life. First come focusing and moving both eyes, in sync. The brain is adapting and developing as well, learning how to process the visual information from the eyes. With the development of eyesight, comes also the foundation for motor development such as crawling, walking, and hand-eye coordination.
Toddler and preschool kids experience rapid and dramatic growth in intellectual and motor skills. During this time, they develop their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and perceptual abilities that will enable them to read, write, draw and participate in sports. It’s a landmark moment for the child’s vision development.
My Approach to Children’s Eye Exams
In my practice, what I want to catch in children four-year-old and up, are eye turns or high prescriptions that can lead to lazy eyes (amblyopia). If an eye is lazy and caught at an early age it can be strengthened. If left untreated, it can cause permanent vision loss and that child’s vision may never reach 20/20 even as an adult.
An early eye exam will also test for color recognition and eye coordination. If parents notice their child squinting, rubbing their eyes frequently, sitting very close to the tv or reading material, or generally avoiding activities such as puzzles or coloring, an eye exam should be a priority. If a child already wears eyeglasses or contact lenses, they should have their eyes examined yearly. Children’s eyes can change rapidly as they grow.
A child’s eye exam is easy and simple – no letter-reading! Usually, drops for dilation are required. I do a thorough check assessing the need for glasses, color vision, depth perception and eye/teaming and coordination. And make it all fun and engaging.
As summer wanes and school resumes, remember to book an eye exam for your children.