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A Child’s First Eye Exam: What to Expect

Posted on June 2, 2022 in Healthy You

Girl at the eye doctor

Healthy eyes help children explore, do well in school and stay safe.  An essential part of maintaining good eye health is through vision exams, but do you know when children should start seeing an eye doctor?

Babies’ and young children’s bodies go through many changes — eyes included. Children often see pediatricians and dentists, but only 39% of preschool children have had their vision tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

If you have a young child and wonder if they see clearly, it may be time for your child’s first eye appointment.

When Should a Child Get Their First Eye Exam?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), children should get their first eye exam when they’re still infants. Vision providers can do comprehensive first eye exam on children between 6 months and 12 months old.2

Where Should I Go for a Child’s Eye Exam?

Children see many types of health providers: pediatricians, dentists and school health nurses, to name a few.

Many people associate childhood vision checks with screenings at school, but those checks neglect to find problems in 75% of children who have vision problems, according to the AOA.2

Taking a child to a licensed vision professional, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist (an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor specializing in eye diseases), is the best way to ensure any problems are detected as early as possible.

What Tests Are Done During a Pediatric Eye Exam?

At an eye appointment, children will receive a comprehensive eye exam. This means that the provider will check a wide range of vision aspects, including vision sharpness, depth perception and eye alignment. The provider will look inside the eyes with special, painless devices to ensure all looks healthy and any potential issues are found early, when they’re easily treatable.

After a Child’s First Eye Exam, How Often Do They Need Vision Checks?

The AOA recommends that children receive at least one eye exam with a vision professional between ages 3 and 5. After that, a child should receive an eye exam every year starting by first grade,2  but your vision provider will share specific guidance based on the child’s eye health and medical history.

Children should have a team of medical providers dedicated to their long-term health, and a vision professional is a key member of this team. You can easily find a DeltaVision in-network provider using our Find a Provider tool.