According to the AOA, a child should have a comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age, another at 3 years of age, and again just before they enter kindergarten at age 5 or 6. This is important because much of a child’s learning is through their eyes – up to 80%! Visual screenings are used throughout schools and at pediatrician’s offices to detect eye problems. However this is no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam done by an eye doctor. A complete eye examination includes a good history and tests for visual acuity, eye muscle movements, eye health, and any other tests that the eye doctor feels that is necessary. This exam can reveal more subtle problems that can be missed by a typical visual screening.
Symptoms to look for from birth to one year include constant or infrequent eye turns, which suggest muscle imbalance problems. Tear overflow can suggest a blocked tear duct that needs to be treated. A white pupil may suggest retinoblastoma, or cancer of the eye.
From ages 1 to 5 or 6 children with visual issues can exhibit difficulty tracing a moving target, have short attention spans and not be able to finish or complete tasks in order. They may also close one eye to see out of the better eye.
Kids ages 6 and up that have vision problems may display issue with double vision, losing their place while reading and have headaches. Children at this age can also exhibit poor penmanship.
Children commonly diagnosed with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to have issues with the eyes working together and should have a comprehensive eye evaluation by an eye doctor.
I do recommend your children having annual eye exams over the age of 6. Speaking to your child prior to the exam will get them prepared. Also parents are encouraged to ask questions during the visit.
Overall making sure your children are seeing well is an important part of their well-being.