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So much of what children learn is through visual information processing. It is essential that children are given their best opportunity to learn and develop.

Eye exams for the very young are different than the exams we know as adults, but so necessary. Good vision is crucial for your child’s development.

Surprisingly, up to 10 percent of preschool children have un-diagnosed vision problems. In fact, many children do not get their first eye exams until they are in school full-time.

Problematic eyesight may first be detected during a school screening, or suspected when a teacher notices difficulty with reading or frequent headaches.

Eye doctors recommend that infants should have their first eye exam when they are six months old. Their eyes should be examined again at three and five years old. The younger a child is when vision problems are corrected, the better the outcome. You may want to know what to expect during those examinations. Here is a brief review…

Baby’s First Eye Exam

At your baby’s first eye exam, your eye doctor will want to be sure that your child’s eyes are developing as they should. There are several tests that your eye doctor will perform to check your child’s eye health and visual processing…

  • Test of Pupil Responses – Your doctor will be sure your baby’s pupils are responding appropriately to light and the absence of light.
  • “Fixate and Follow” – During this six-month examination, your doctor will use this test to have your baby fixate and follow an object or light as it moves.
  • Preferential Looking – With a card that is blank on one side and patterned on the other, your eye doctor will be able to assess your baby’s vision and observe their visual preferences.

Three-Year-Old Eye Exams

Once your child is three years old, there are more tests your eye doctor will want to perform. It is important to be sure a young child’s vision is as accurate as it can be.

Visual processing can be determined by the use of shapes, rather than letters that may not be known yet. Your eye care professional will also be checking for focus and determining how well your child’s eyes are working together.

The following tests are often used…

  • LEA Symbols – With a test similar to an adult eye chart, your child’s vision will be assessed with a chart that contains symbols for an apple, a house, a square and a circle.
  • Retinoscopy – Your eye doctor will be able to observe the reflection on the retina by shining a light on the backs of your preschooler’s eyes. If glasses are needed, this test will also help the doctor determine the necessary prescription.
  • Dot Stereopsis – By using special patterns of dots and 3-D glasses, your doctor will be able to see how well the eyes work together.
  • Lazy Eye, Misalignment, Focus, Depth and Color Vision – Your eye doctor will look for signs of a lazy eye and any misalignment of the eyes. He will be sure that your child’s eyes are maintaining a correct alignment in preparation for reading. Your eye doctor will also gauge your child’s depth perception, check their color vision and overall eye health.

Repeat the Eye Exam at Age Five

A child who cannot see properly may become discouraged or frustrated in school. They may have a more difficult time learning to read if their vision is compromised. So please make sure to repeat your child’s vision test the summer before the start of kindergarten.

Yearly exams are recommended while your child is in school. The vision tests will adapt to their age. With the technology we use today, children’s eyes are under more stress than ever before. Vision problems can be effectively treated, and it is beneficial to your child to have those problems diagnosed early.

Watch this great video from Atlanta-based CNN report about why kids should be getting eye exams.

Good vision is essential to your child’s growth, development, and their success in school. Get your kids to the eye doctor soon!


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