Facts and Information For Parents and Caregivers
Yearly medical checkups with the child's pediatrician are routine for many parents, but are comprehensive eye exams? Undiagnosed or untreated eye conditions can have a major impact on a child's performance academically, socially, and athletically. Children learn how to use their eyes as their development progresses, and with undiagnosed eye conditions the brain will learn to accommodate for those deficiencies, making it harder to treat as time elapses.
The AOA recommends that children get their eyes examined by an eye care professional at ages:
- Birth–12 months: Infants should have a comprehensive eye exam to examine the health of the eyes and to make sure no underlying ocular conditions are present. It is especially important for premature babies to have a comprehensive eye exam within the first 12 months.
- Age 2–3: It is very important for preschoolers to have an exam, as it is a critical time of development and learning for children of this age.
- Age 5: It is important for children to have an exam before entering kindergarten.
- It is recommended that children be seen yearly for their comprehensive eye exams once the child starts school.
The Difference Between Vision Screenings and Comprehensive Eye Exams
It is estimated that vision screenings, even those done by medically trained technicians, fail to detect vision/ocular problems in 1 out of 3 children. Comprehensive eye exams are much better at identifying problems that most vision screenings do not even test for.
How can these screenings miss so many issues?
- A screening can be performed by anyone while a comprehensive eye exam is performed by a licensed eye doctor. The doctors at our office specialize in pediatric vision care and are trained to detect any abnormalities in your child's visual/ocular system.
- The screenings last only a few minutes not allowing for a comprehensive evaluation.
- Comprehensive eye exams last from 30-60 minutes evaluating the visual system and also providing a thorough health evaluation of the child's eyes.
- A screening typically does not asses the functionality of the binocular visual system (how well the eyes are working together) and they do not give a thorough health assessment of one's eyes. In a comprehensive eye exam the doctor will test to see how well the eyes are aligned and how well they are working together. The child will also be dilated so the health of the eyes can be assessed.
The reasons listed above are why children need comprehensive eye exams at the recommended time intervals. Most insurance companies include routine comprehensive eye exams under normal preventative care. If a processing or binocular vision issue is detected and our doctors feel it can be corrected through vision therapy, they will take the proper steps in ensuring that the child receives the best care possible through our vision therapy program.
Need to schedule an appointment for your child? Do you have questions regarding children's vision care? Please contact any one of our four convenient locations and we will be happy to help!