Eye Exams

Eye Exams for Children

As a parent, you may wonder whether your preschooler has a vision problem or when you should schedule your child’s first eye exam.

Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems.* Early identification of a child’s vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning:

  • Near vision
  • Distance vision
  • Binocular (two eyes) coordination
  • Eye movement skills
  • Focusing skills
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Hand-eye coordination

For these reasons, some states require a mandatory eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.

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Preparing for an Eye Exam

Common questions about eye exams include: How much does an eye exam cost? How frequently should I have my eyes examined? What should I bring with me to my exam?

These guidelines can help you prepare for your next (or first) eye exam.

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Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Routine eye exams are important — regardless of your age or your physical health.

During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor does much more than just determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. He or she will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together as a team and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health.

Also, eye doctors often are the first health care professionals to detect chronic systemic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

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Your Comprehensive Eye Exam

Optometrists and ophthalmologists use a wide variety of tests and procedures to examine your eyes. These tests range from simple ones, like having you read an eye chart, to complex tests, such as using a high-powered lens to visualize the tiny structures inside of your eyes.

A comprehensive eye exam can take an hour or more, depending on the doctor and the number and complexity of tests required to fully evaluate your vision and the health of your eyes.

Here are eye and vision tests that you are likely to encounter during a routine comprehensive eye exam:

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