At What Age Should Children Have Their First Eye Exam?

Often a child's first eye exam occurs at the suggestion of a pediatrician who suspects issues based on a pediatric vision check. However, it is beneficial to seek out a pediatric eye doctor earlier on, even if you don't notice issues with your child's vision. Early eye exams are particularly important if there’s a family history of vision problems.

Your child's eyesight is important, so when is the right time to start scheduling those regular exams?     

The initial exam

According to the Cleveland Clinic and the American Optometric Association, it's best to start early. They recommend an initial, comprehensive eye exam before a child's first birthday. They also recommend at least one visit to an eye doctor prior to starting preschool, and more frequently if a pediatrician suspects vision issues.

Although some vision testing is completed during pediatrician well visits, it's good to remember that pediatricians and family doctors don't have the in-depth training and experience of vision care professionals. Regular examinations with a pediatric optometrist can help identify vision issues like amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus, pediatric cataracts, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Identifying potential vision issues early in your child's life is important because many vision and eye alignment problems can be corrected quickly, and sometimes permanently, in infants.  Conversely, when these issues are missed, they can have long-lasting negative effects on your child’s well-being.

At Michigan Eye and Contact Lens, we specialize in pediatric eye care. As part of the InfantSEE® public health program from the American Optometric Association, we provide free comprehensive infant eye assessments for our young patients between six months and one year old in the absence of a previous diagnosis.  This is a great way to get your child’s eyes checked if you have a family history of eye conditions or just want to put your mind at ease that your child’s eyes and vision are healthy.

We know how important your child's eyesight is, and pride ourselves on completing thorough screenings for our pediatric patients, while keeping your child comfortable. And should we detect any vision issues, we’re ready to use our expertise to find a solution.

What we look for during a pediatric eye exam

A six-month-old baby can't tell us which of two frames looks clearer or identify letters from a standard eye chart, so a pediatric vision exam may look a bit different than exams for older patients. We make vision testing into a game for our youngest clients.

During the exam Dr. Williamson tests your child's ability to track moving objects and assesses his response to changing light conditions. She also examines the structure and alignment of your child's eyes and may perform noninvasive photographic or imaging tests.

Dr. Williamson looks for:

If a vision problem is detected, Dr. Williamson treats the condition and prescribes corrective lenses for your child, if needed.  

Getting ready for an exam

Pediatric eye exams are most effective when the child is awake and playful. Book your appointment so that it doesn’t fall during your baby’s usual naptime or feeding time.

Dr. Williamson works quickly and may ask for your participation in the assessment "games" she plays with your child. Since the goal is to keep your baby or toddler happy, secure, and involved in the exam, consider bringing a favorite toy and perhaps even a snack or bottle to the examination.

If your child is between the ages of six months and one year, call our office or book an online appointment. Pediatric eye exams are important to your child's eye health, and early detection of issues can make a difference.

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