The American Academy of Ophthalmology has named August Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month and although each child’s eyes are different, it’s important to spread awareness about the timeline for vision checks as children grow into adults.
At about six months of age, all infants should receive a comprehensive vision assessment even if no eye issues are apparent. The assessment tests for eye health issues, eye movement ability, and excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. It’s vital to address any problems found because vision issues can often cause developmental delays.
Once children reach age three, it’s recommended they receive a visual acuity test. This testing will show whether they may have lazy eye and will once again test for refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism).
If no vision problems have been discovered after the visual acuity test, then normally children won’t need a visit to the eye doctor again until they enter the first grade when another eye exam is recommended. Of the children in elementary school who are diagnosed with a vision issue, most are diagnosed with nearsightedness – a common refractive error where close objects are clear, but distant objects are blurry. Nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses, depending on the child’s age. Often times children don’t realize they are experiencing blurred vision, so it’s important to talk to your child and ask them to read distant signs or name objects that are at a distance.
Once children grow into teenagers, they are typically able to notice any changes in their vision and should receive an eye exam if they are experience any blurred vision or other issues. Teenagers who already have corrective lenses should get annual eye exams because their eyes do tend to change rapidly and an optometrist or ophthalmologist will need to determine changes in prescription.
Vision is such an important aspect of learning and vital to development, so never hesitate to contact an optometrist or ophthalmologist about your child’s eye health and schedule an eye exam.