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When Should Your Child Have a First Eye Exam?

Child sitting with school books and chalkboard

You want to get your young children off to a good start in every way — and that includes their eye health. But when is the right time to start having your child’s eyes checked?

In honor of August being Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Minnesota Eye Consultants wants to remind parents of the importance of comprehensive eye exams for young infants and children, because some early eye problems can affect vision for life. Finding a problem early can keep a minor issue from becoming something major and harder to treat. 

A baby’s first eye exam should take place around 6 months of age. There are optometrists that specialize in pediatric exams, and at this visit, they will simply be looking for proper eye development (basic eye structures and movement abilities). They also check for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, along with other eye diseases that may not be visible to the naked eye (such as tumors or cataracts).

Another eye check is recommended around 2-3 years so the physician can continue to monitor your child’s visual development. Another comprehensive eye exam should be completed prior to your child entering Kindergarten. Once again, they will be examined for proper visual development and to see if corrective gear would be beneficial.

Here are some common AND uncommon signs your child may need an eye exam:

  • Difficulty tracking an object with both eyes after 4 months of age
  • Trouble moving both eyes in all directions
  • Misaligned eyes
  • Trouble focusing
  • Droopy eyelids or an excessively watering eye
  • Complaining of headaches
  • Experiencing eye fatigue after reading
  • Poor sports performance
  • Squinting or closing one eye
  • Blinking or rubbing of the eyes
  • Poor reading ability and comprehension
  • Poor school performance
  • Holding electronic devices or books too close to the eyes
  • Losing their place while reading

If you notice your child experiencing any of these symptoms, discuss the signs with your child’s doctor and schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your primary Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.

*Sources: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Cleveland Clinic