What To Expect When You Take Your Child For A Vision Test

As a parent, you know that any stranger in your child’s life can be intimidating. Although adults trust that doctors know what they are doing, they are still strangers and a mystery to children. If you are going to take your child for an eye exam, it is helpful not only to know what the exam will include, but also to help your child understand and anticipate what will happen once they get there. That can cut down on a lot of the anxiety that children can have when visiting any health care professional.

Although many parents wait until children are school-aged to have their first eye exam, if your child has a family history of eye conditions or you see anything that is worrisome, seeking out an eye care specialist is always a good idea at any age. Statistics show that as many as 5 to 10% of preschoolers have vision problems; that number jumps to 25% in older children.

Vision is highly correlated to a child’s ability to develop. So, if there are any visual conditions, it could affect a child’s learning or even lead to permanent vision loss if a problem is not diagnosed or corrected in time. Experts recommend that a child has a complete vision exam at the age of six months, at three years of age, and then before they enter either kindergarten or first grade.

Once they enter school, it is recommended that they have regular eye exams by an eye care specialist every two years to diagnose and treat any potential vision problems. Although school screenings are mandatory in many states, they are not enough to catch many childhood conditions that can pose some serious consequences.

Conditions that are most common in childhood and should be evaluated for are:

  • Eye teaming skills
Distance vision (farsightedness)
  • Eye movement ability
  • Focusing ability
  • Eye/hand coordination
  • Peripheral strength

Due to the gravity that vision has on a child’s capacity to learn, children are required to have an eye examination before they head off to school to find any potential problems.

Scheduling an eye exam

The best time to schedule an eye exam is when your child is at their peak for concentration. Since it is difficult to assess children, especially when they are nonverbal, things like nap schedules, the time of day, and mealtime are all important — and often underestimated — things to consider when making an appointment. Don’t always take the first appointment available. If the test isn’t performed under the right circumstances, it can affect the quality of the results.

When you go to the appointment, make sure to have a full history of your child’s development. Things that might not seem connected can be highly valuable for the eye care professional to know. If they have had previous vision tests done, it is a good idea to bring a copy of the results along.

What to bring

It will help the health care provider to have a baseline and something to compare the results to. Also, if you have any family history issues, it is important to share that with the doctor. It might help them to narrow down what they should test for and make sure that they do not overlook something that might be lurking.

If your child has had any problems or complaints about their vision in the past or present, make sure to report them to the pediatrician. Don’t downplay symptoms that you have noticed. No, you are probably not just looking for things to be wrong. If you have concerns, then make sure to note them and let the doctor know what they are.

Depending on your child’s age, various tests will be performed. Reassure your child that nothing is going to hurt, and explain what the visit is for. Asking them for input if they are old enough is an excellent way to empower them and to ease any anxiety they might have about going to see the doctor.

Although it’s highly underestimated, vision is one of the biggest predictors of a child’s capacity to learn. To ensure that your child is reaching their milestones, it is important not to overlook signs of vision problems, have your pediatrician include an eye exam at well-child appointments, and see a professional for a full eye exam at the recommended ages.


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