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When Should My Child Get an Eye Exam?

There are many recommended health care appointments for children, and a comprehensive eye examination with an eye doctor is an important part of these. It may be confusing as to when you should bring your child for an eye examination and what can be done at each age.

This article will explore expert recommended guidelines for children’s eye examination intervals and what to expect from these appointments. In addition, the information here may be different if our optometrist finds certain conditions that they want to watch more closely.

0 – 2 Years: One Eye Examination Between 6 – 12 Months of Age

Although young and unable to do a typical eye examination, infants are able to have their eyes examined for various entities that can affect their development. After birth, hospital staff check for basic eye functioning and any noticeable diseases, like infections or the media of the eyes not being clear.

Our optometrist can check the eyes again between 6 – 12 months of age, where they are doing simple objective tests to check again for opacities in the eyes, glasses prescriptions that are outside of normal levels and can impact development, eye turns that require prompt treatment, etc.

These are short appointments that can do a great deal for a child if an issue is found.


3 – 5 Years: At Least One Eye Exam Between 3 – 5 Years of Age

As the child grows older, a more thorough eye examination is possible that can more precisely determine variables like the glasses prescription, which can be increasingly important as the child begins school.

This can be quite important as changes in the eyes that are not likely to be noticed by parents, like different refractive errors between the two eyes, can lead to amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” Amblyopia results when an eye does not have a clear image during the childhood years until age 9, causing the brain to not develop proper connections to that eye.

If the problem is corrected before age 9, proper function can develop, but if correction occurs afterwards, then there may be residual lack of vision in that eye.


6 – 18 Years: Once Before First Grade Then Annually Thereafter

As kids grow older into school, sports, and other activities, closely looking after their vision remains important. Even once we are beyond the ages where amblyopia could be a problem, optional correction of refractive error is important to optimize learning.

Treatment of errors in how the eyes focus, and how they work and move together, are also important for school and, especially, homework. Contact lenses may become important for sports and other extracurriculars like performances.

If a child is nearsighted, methods exist to reduce the rate that their prescription grows, leading to a smaller prescription overall when they finish growing.

Parents sometimes believe that if there is an issue with their child’s vision, they will be able to see it themselves, and put off routine eye care for their kids.

On the other hand, when an issue is found in an eye examination that was not previously known about, some parents blame themselves for not bringing their children in sooner. The best way to avoid this feeling, and to maintain the eye health of our kids, is to just simply get their eyes examined at proper intervals.


Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to set up an eye exam for your child.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, Montrose, East Downtown, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

What to Expect at Your Child’s Eye Exam

Vision is an important part of development for children.  Eye examinations are important during childhood so you can be sure your child’s eyes and vision are properly developing.  Even if your child does not demonstrate any symptoms or problems with their eyes or vision, check-ups with your optometrist can reveal if there are any underlying problems that need to be addressed.  Your optometrist can determine whether they need glasses, assess the health of their eyes, and check for other vision conditions that may affect how a child processes visual information.  


When Should My Child have an Eye Exam? 

Even if your child does not seem to have any vision or eye-related problems, they should be examined several times throughout childhood.  The national guidelines from the American Optometric Association suggest kids have eye examinations around ages six-months, three-years, and again before entering grade school.  By allowing the doctor to see the child at several points throughout the process of visual development, they can ensure that all important visual milestones are being met.  Exams may need to occur more frequently if the doctor detects risk factors.  The optometrist may require follow-up appointments to determine whether or not a glasses prescription is required.  Many children will go through vision screenings at school or daycare; these are great tools to help identify certain risk factors, but they are not as thorough and cannot replace a traditional eye examination. 

What Happens at a Child’s Eye Exam? 

During childhood, every eye examination will look a little bit different.  As to be expected, a 6-month old baby is unable to provide any feedback about their vision or their eyes, so the doctor relies on objective findings to determine visual acuity.  Optometrists can use a series of lights to accurately estimate a prescription and determine if glasses are required.   At age 3, the child may be able to provide a little bit more feedback, but the doctor will still mostly depend on objective methods to examine the eyes and the vision.  By the time the child is entering grade school, they should be able to see 20/20 and provide more accurate feedback to the doctor in terms of their vision and a potential glasses prescription.  At each of the exams, the optometrist will also perform a series of tests to evaluate the visual system and determine how well the eyes are working together, as these are important aspects of learning and development for children.  The doctor will also evaluate the health of the eyes at each exam.  Oftentimes, this requires dilating eye drops so the doctor can thoroughly and accurately assess the health of the retina.  


Can Eye Exams Help My Child in School?

Children’s eye examinations usually contain extra tests to evaluate visual processing and binocularity.  This can provide extra information on the kid’s visual system and can indicate whether or not there may be any hurdles to learning.  Children who experience vision problems are more likely to struggle in school, so early identification and treatment of these issues can help children to be more confident and efficient in the classroom.  


Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about your child’s eye exam or how glasses may help your child improve in school.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Midtown and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston,Texas.