When to test? When does my child need his/her first eye exam?
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), children generally should have their first eye exam at six months of age, another exam at age three and again at the start of school. Risk-free children should then continue to have their eyes examined every two years until age 18. Children who currently wear eyeglasses or contact lenses should have annual eye exams, according to the AOA.
Children need regular eye exams to detect vision problems that may interfere with learning. Routine eye exams are essential for children to be ready to learn in school, and experts say more than 80 percent of information children receive in classrooms is presented visually.
Children with risk factors for vision problems may need their first eye exam earlier than six months of age and may need more frequent eye exams throughout childhood. Examples of risk factors include:
Prep for the exam. Preparing a child for his/her first visit
One of the reasons we do not wear white coats in the office is to make children feel more at ease. I prefer you tell your child that they are going to see “Michael” or the optometrist. Sometimes telling a child that they are going to see the eye doctor makes them apprehensive. All they hear is the “doctor” part. Then they are fearful of something painful like shots.
If a child is not comfortable with letters, we have charts that use numbers and charts that use symbols that are readily identifiable by most children.
Sometimes we will need to dilate a child’s eyes or use other drops. I tell children that by the time they count to ten slowly, the stinging will go away. Works every time. You may want to prepare your child by putting rewetting drops in his or her eyes to practice. The drops we use only sting for a few seconds, but for a child, having their eyes held open while a stranger puts stingy drops in them is no fun. We use every method we can to make this as calm as possible.
Illinois State Law requires comprehensive eye exams for children entering kindergarten or enrolling for the first time in public, private, or parochial elementary schools in Illinois. Children will be required to have the eye exam performed only by qualified eye doctors. Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to complete paperwork. Or you can download and fill out the forms ahead of time and bring them to your appointment. Click to download Patient Info PDF | HIPAA Statement
Infantsee® is a healthy start to vision care
InfantSEE®, a public health program, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, AOA optometrists provide a comprehensive eye and vision assessments for infants within the first year of life regardless of a family’s income or access to insurance coverage. Learn more about InfantSEE®.
Routine eye exams
Dry eye diagnosis and therapy
Pre- and post-operative care