Whether your child is a few months old, just learning to read, or on their way to valedictorian, you need to keep up with their eye health.
Like a wellness visits and vaccine schedules, your child should be on a schedule for vision screenings and check-ups. Your pediatrician or family doctor can help assess your child’s eyes in the early years, but eventually your child may need to meet with an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
The Early Years
In the hospital, doctors will look for a “red reflex” in each eye. They may also test blink and pupil response. If your baby is born prematurely or has signs of eye disease, a comprehensive exam might be necessary.
At a wellness check between 6 and 12 months, your pediatrician will run the same tests from the hospital, as well as a visual inspection of the eyes and note your child’s eye alignment and movement.
Sometime, between 12 and 36 months, a photo screening test is administered to identify problems that can lead to amblyopia or “lazy eye.” This is simply a specialized camera that takes photos of the eye.
At 3 to 5 years old your child’s eye alignment and vision should be checked. If they can read an eye chart, their doctor might test their visual acuity. Don’t be surprised- many children are farsighted but rarely require glasses.
Grade Schools and Older
After 5 years old, children should be regularly screened for visual acuity and alignment. Many kids are nearsighted and require visual correction with eyeglasses. See an ophthalmologist if eye issues are detected.
Vision Screening Vs. Comprehensive Eye Exam
A comprehensive eye exam is a more in-depth screening of your child’s eye. Eye drops are used to dilate pupils and signs of eye disease are more obvious. You should ask about a comprehensive eye exam if your child:
- Fails their vision screening or the results are inconclusive
- Is referred by a pediatrician
- Has a vision complaint
- Or family has a history of eye disease in the family
- Has a learning disability or developmental delay
For more healthy tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, visit https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/children-eye-screening. You can visit www.tchdnow.org or find them on Facebook for more information about the Tuscarawas County Health Department and their services.