Do you know when it’s time for your child to visit the eye doctor? Eye health is as important for growing children as it is for adults. Children use their eyesight to communicate, learn and develop their initial view of the world. This guide can help you determine if it is time to take your child to the eye doctor for an examination.
When babies are first born, they receive a general physical in the hospital from a pediatrician or family doctor. At this time, the medical professional will check their visual responses, ensuring all activity is normal for a newborn. If any irregularities are noticed, they will refer the parents to an eye specialist who can provide appropriate care at the infant stage.
Infants born prematurely via high-risk birth procedures, or those with family histories of eye disease, receive particular attention regarding eye development. If the doctor determines the eye has a deformity or malfunction, the infant undergoes further testing from a specialist. Otherwise, if all eyesight markers meet normal standards, infants’ eyes are included in the general examinations they receive from their pediatrician throughout their first few years of life. The doctor will watch for near and farsightedness, eye movement patterns and the eye’s adjustment to both darkness and light. They will refer the baby to an eye doctor or specialist for any needed additional testing.
By the time a child reaches age 3 ½, it’s time for them to receive a comprehensive eye examination to test for actual vision accuracy. Using pictures, charts and letters, pediatricians diagnose vision deficiencies, lazy eyes or blurry vision. All results are used to refer the child to a pediatric eye doctor for further testing, if needed.
Checkups Prior to Grade School
At age 5, before the child begins grade school, the pediatrician will again examine the child’s eyesight. They may ask the parent if they notice any of the following symptoms pointing to a vision deficiency:
- Rubbing their eyes often
- Sitting too close to the television
- Frequent squinting or head tilting
- Decreased attention span
- Inadequate hand-eye coordination
- Light sensitivity
- Aversion to activities requiring fine motor skills
- Frequent headaches
Proper eye development is imperative in the early years of life. Children are learning social cues and information that will help them achieve success in school and form friendships with their peers. Since children may believe their version of vision is normal, they may not complain to a parent or teacher about their eyesight.
It is important for parents and caregivers to communicate to pediatricians all signs the child may be struggling with their eyesight. If you think your child needs to visit the eye doctor, call the caring, helpful professionals at Salt Lake Eye Associates, and receive personalized treatment for their vision needs.