According to the American Optometric Association, your child’s first eye exam should occur between 6-12 months of age. This exam will look for any eye development issues or possible vision impairments. The earlier a problem is addressed and treated the less chance of developmental delays or worsening of the condition.

Did you know that less than 22% of preschool-age children have received a vision screening and less than 15% have had an eye exam? Basic vision screenings are generally not performed at an eye clinic but at a school or pediatrician’s office. A basic vision screening only catches around 5% of vision problems.

Eye exams performed by an optometrist are much more thorough, going over family history, and any birth or prenatal complications. Eye doctors also have the technology and equipment necessary to look inside and behind the eye itself.

Starting the habit of routine eye care, visiting an eye clinic at an early age is important for good healthy eye development. Unless otherwise recommended after the first appointment between 6-12 months, another exam should be given before entering school, and then annually thereafter.

Now even with routine eye exams, children do develop vision problems. It’s a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Over 40% of the U.S. population needs glasses.

With adults, it’s easier to diagnose and treat vision problems because we can understand and communicate our symptoms. With a child, signs can often be mistaken for other things. So, what signs should you be watching out for?

1. Headaches

One of the most common signs of vision trouble is frequent headaches. You might notice your child complaining of headaches after watching TV, reading, playing on an iPad, after school, or after other activities that rely heavily on sight.

2. Rubbing Eyes

If a child is constantly rubbing their eyes after watching TV or reading, this is often seen in children suffering from vision problems. The eyes are tired and sore from straining and rubbing is an attempt to get some relief.

3. Reading

When a child is learning how to read and they start skipping words or trying really hard to follow their finger while sounding out words, it might be time to call the eye clinic. Losing track of where they’re at while reading is a trademark sign of vision problems. It’s commonly seen in kids around preschool and kindergarten age.

4. Photosensitive

A sudden sensitivity to light can mean a few things. It could be allergies, a new medication or supplement, or vision problems. The only way to find out the cause is to call the eye clinic and schedule an appointment with an optometrist.

5. Sitting Too Close

It’s not entirely uncommon to see a child sitting as close as humanly possible to a TV screen. As crazy as it looks to adults, for some kids, that’s how they enjoy watching TV!
If you find your child with their face almost pressed up against the TV screen, before you call the eye clinic, ask them why they’re doing it. If they don’t know or claim it’s because they can’t see, well getting them in for a vision check might not be a bad idea.

The earlier a problem is found, the better! Call to schedule an appointment for your child today.