When Should Your Child Have an Eye Exam?

by Mar 15, 2021

A child’s first eye examination can be very exciting. Luckily for us, the majority of our testing and examination of children is enjoyable and fun.

Here are some of the different tests and assessments that are made at our office for a children’s eye examination, as well as recommendations for when they should have their first and subsequent visits (as noted by the American Optometric Association, AOA).

Your baby’s first eye exam: 0 – 2 years old

From an early age, your child is eligible for a full eye examination. At birth, it is common for hospital staff to check for basic functioning such as normal eye movements and the presence of various ocular structures.

After this, often between the age of six to twelve months of age, booking an appointment with one of our optometrists will allow them to assess the eyes in more detail, such as ensuring there are no opacifications of the lens within the eye, large eye turns, or serious vision threatening disorders.

The testing is often simple and will involve a light shone into the eye from a distance or from very close to assess for large refractive errors requiring glasses early in life as well as the health at the back of the eye.


Toddler eye exams: 3 – 5 years old

After the initial exam, the AOA recommends at least one examination between the ages of three to five years old. By this age, a more thorough eye examination can be completed to assess the need for medium to high prescription glasses, more subtle eye turns, colour vision, and depth perception.

A visit can be crucial during this time period to ensure that a child does not develop amblyopia, or “lazy eye”. Amblyopia develops when one or both eyes do not receive the appropriate visual stimulation necessary for proper development of the neural pathways to the brain in childhood, causing reduced vision in that eye that is mostly permanent, requiring huge amounts of time and training to mildly improve later in life.

Providing glasses, contact lenses, or other interventions such as eye patching or training will need to be prescribed by our eye doctor in these cases. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be for the eye and brain to develop properly.


Eye exams in kids: 6 – 17 years old

By this age, a majority of the testing normally done with adults can be completed on the child. During your child’s visits in these years, our optometrist will again assess for eye turns, ocular health and the need for corrective lenses.

A small prescription can more often be prescribed here to increase the clarity of vision as the child is able to accurately discern clarity when subjected to testing. Receiving at least one eye examination before first grade is crucial to ensure that reduced visual function will not impact learning in the coming years.

From there, annual appointments will be important as well. In children with myopia or nearsightedness, myopia control is often implemented early on in order to slow down its progression in the childhood and adolescent years.

This is the age group during which the magnitude of a child’s nearsightedness can change drastically so starting intervention early can be very beneficial.


Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about when your child should have their eye exam. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Joseph Goldberg, Karen Darrell and Patricia Jones provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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