You know yearly eye exams are important as an adult, but what about your child? How early should you get their eyes checked? Healthy vision habits start young. Learn how to protect your child’s vision below.
Does My Child Need to Visit an Eye Doctor?
Long before your child’s first eye exam, parents can often spot behaviors that indicate a potential vision problem. The following signs can be an indication that you child has an eye or vision problem. If you notice these behaviors, schedule an exam for your child as soon as possible.
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Holding books too close to the face
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Tilting head to one side
- Difficulty with eye-hand coordination (hitting a ball, coloring, puzzles, etc.)
- Sensitivity to light
- Short attention span
In addition to these behaviors, also watch for signs of crossed eyes or lazy eye. One or both eyes turning inward or outward can be a sign your child needs an eye exam.
When Should I Schedule My Child’s First Eye Exam?
Your child should receive their first vision exam between the ages of three and five. This should be a through optometric exam with an eye doctor, not a standard vision screening at the pediatrician’s office. Vision screenings miss many children with actual vision problems, up to 60%. Approximately 10% of preschoolers have some type of eye or vision problem.
After their initial exam, your child should receive an eye exam every two years, sooner if you notice a problem. Signs of a vision problem in older children include the behaviors listed above as well as frequent headaches, covering one eye, losing their place when reading, etc.
Can My Child Have LASIK Surgery?
If your child does have vision problems, your eye doctor can help you address and treat the problem. LASIK surgery is not generally recommended for children. Glasses are often the best option until your child reaches age 18.