Parents are often confused about pediatric eye exams. There are different opinions about when they should start and if they’re important for teenagers. It is important to clear up this confusion because your child’s eye health is critical to enhancing their ability to learn. New Beginnings Pediatrics shares some answers to questions you may have about having your child’s eyes examined.
When do kids need to start having eye exams?
Pediatricians do eye exams soon after birth. It is a limited exam and is done to detect any abnormalities in the pupil’s light reflex and any problems in the eyes’ alignment. Some pediatricians recommend a more comprehensive eye exam by age one. The purpose of these eye exams isn’t to determine if your child needs eyeglasses but to detect any existing problems that might need treatment. Just like regular pediatric exams, the eye screening is about prevention.
The answer to when to start with eye exams is as early and as often as your pediatrician thinks it necessary to ensure your child’s eye health.
Why are pediatric eye exams important?
Eye examinations are the only way to make sure your child’s eyes are healthy. This includes the detection of early vision problems. Children need to have good vision at near and far distances for:
- Success in school
- Safety reasons
- Enjoyable participation in social activities
- Enjoyment of the world around them
- Proper utilization of computers
Early diagnosis of abnormalities such as crossed eyes and lazy eye is vital to successful treatment and to avoid learning difficulties at school.
How can pediatricians help with eye screenings for children?
Pediatricians play a significant role in children’s eye health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians check newborn babies for problems such as infections, defects, cataracts, and glaucoma. After this, the pediatrician will check for eye health, vision, and eye alignment at each visit.
Screenings don’t replace a comprehensive exam by an eye specialist, but many problems can be successfully treated when detected during a screening.
How are eye exams different for each age group?
Children’s eyes are changing and need to be evaluated thoroughly at each stage of development.
Kids under 5: By age 5, the pediatrician and eye specialist have checked for vision problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness. Eye shape, strength, movement, alignment, and reaction to light are also evaluated. Screenings with eye charts, pictures, and games test visual acuity. This is an important age to ensure that eyes are healthy with excellent vision before your child enters school.
Ages 5-13: Vision becomes even more important as a child progresses through school. Several vision skills begin to be necessary for a child’s success in school and out of school.
These essential vision skills include:
- Ability to see clearly at different distances
- Ability to keep focus over time and when objects move
- Ability to coordinate hand movements with vision
Ages 13-18: A teenager’s body is changing, and vision is still developing. Some eye problems develop which are linked to puberty. Here are some common eye problems your teenager may experience:
- Dry eyes
- Nearsightedness (difficulty seeing objects at a distance)
- Farsightedness (difficulty seeing object close in)
- UV light damage
- Computer eye strain
- Sports-related injuries
The importance of eye health and good vision begins at birth and remains important as a child grows into adulthood. Your New Beginnings pediatrician and eye specialist can work together to make sure your child’s eyes are healthy and ready to learn, play, and grow into healthy adulthood.
If you need to schedule a pediatric eye exam for your child, contact New Beginnings Pediatrics for an appointment. We can’t wait to see your child!