Eye exams are an important part of wellness at any age. For children especially, healthy eyes are critical for development, learning and preparing for the future. Some eye conditions, if found early enough, can be corrected or prevented, allowing children more opportunities to succeed in life. Here’s what to expect from your child’s first eye appointment.
When Should The First Eye Appointment Be?
A pediatrician can do a brief check of your newborn’s eyes, but it’s best to let a pediatric ophthalmologist do a more thorough examination when your baby is about six months old. While this may seem young, this is the time when your child starts to learn object permanence and to interact with the surrounding world. An early eye exam also allows the pediatric ophthalmologist to detect rare but potentially serious conditions that can occur congenitally.
A child’s next eye exam should occur before starting school at age 3-5, yet earlier if your toddler has failed a preschool vision test such as photoscreening.
Getting An Exam From A Pediatric Ophthalmologist
During the first appointment, the eye doctor will likely do the following:
- Check vision by moving colorful objects and toys in child’s field of vision
- Use a light to ensure the pupils respond normally.
- Check and provide a solution for conditions such as lazy eye (amblyopia) and crossed eyes (strabismus)
- Dilate your child’s eyes and use specialized instruments to check for cataracts or any retinal or optic nerve issue.
- Assess for a need for glasses.
Even if your child cannot follow directions, your pediatric ophthalmologist can do all of these tests without your child actively participating or saying a word.
As your child reaches school age, your ophthalmologist may start doing additional testing to look for other eye conditions such as:
- Focusing or convergence problems
- Poor depth perception
- Color blindness
- Eyelid inflammation or styes
- Eye alignment, corneal, or retinal abnormalities not present in infancy
Most children are farsighted at an early age, but over just a few years, nearsightedness or astigmatism can develop. Your ophthalmologist will be able to determine whether corrective lenses are needed before starting school. Also, if your child has other vision conditions like a lazy eye or crossed eyes, this is a good time for early corrective procedures, like eye patching, if advised.
At the start of the exam, please let the eye care team know of any family eye conditions and genetic predispositions in order to assess for these during the visit. Furthermore, you should be prepared to tell your ophthalmologist if your child has any concerning ocular symptoms such as:
- Frequent eye-rubbing or eye redness
- Excessive blinking or tearing
- Failure to maintain eye contact
- Difficulty learning
- Poor eye tracking skills
- Premature birth or developmental delay
We’re Here to Help
We understand that the process of getting your child through a first-time doctor visit can be intimidating, but we’re here to make the process as uncomplicated and enjoyable as possible. Our pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Ganser, will give your child the best possible chance at excellent eye health from day one. For more information or to schedule your child’s next eye appointment, contact us today!