The Cleveland Clinic

Your Child's Eye Exam

Introduction

Your child should have his or her first eye exam done by a pediatrician sometime during the first year of the child's life. If you or your child's pediatrician decide that your child's eyes should be further examined, make an appointment with a qualified pediatric ophthalmologist. Then, with recommendation from your pediatric ophthalmologist, your child's next eye exam will be at the age of 3, and once again before entering kindergarten, or by age 5. From thereon, your child should receive a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years. In-school screenings are used to help detect any severe vision problems early, but your child should still see an eye doctor if there are any symptoms or if he or she fails the screening test.

How Do I Prepare My Child for an Eye Exam?

Make time to sit down and explain what will happen during your child's eye exam. Make sure your child knows that he will be asked to look at and identify objects for the eye doctor. These could be random pictures, letters, or shapes of light on the wall. Explain also that the eye doctor may put drops in his or her eyes, but that it will not hurt.

What Tests Will Be Done on My Child's Eyes?

In the first year of life the pediatric ophthalmologist or pediatrician will check for nearsightedness , farsightedness , astigmatism , amblyopia , eye movement ability, proper eye alignment, how the eye reacts to changes in light and darkness, and any general eye problems. If the eye exam is done by a pediatrician and if problems are found during the examination, the child will usually be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who specializes in diagnosing and treating eye conditions in children. Early diagnosis of childhood eye disease is crucial to effective treatment.