Eye Exams for Children

Did you know:

  • 80% of learning is visual for a child
  • 1 in 4 school-aged children has a vision problem
  • Children with vision problems are often misdiagnosed as having learning or behavioural disabilities
  • Children are often unaware they have a vision issue as they believe what they are seeing is normal
  • The earlier an eye health or visual problem is detected, the more likely it is that it can be corrected

Vision is crucial for learning. From infancy on, children learn about the world around them through their sense of sight. If your child is having difficulty seeing clearly, his or her learning can be affected. Children may have a vision problem and not know it. To ensure that your child has the visual resources they need to grow and develop, their eyes and vision should be check by an optometrist at certain stages of their development. The pediatric eye exam incorporates special techniques and technology to ensure accurate testing and results on children.

The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that children should have their eyes examined between 6 and 10 months of age, at age 3 and again at the start of kindergarten.

School aged children should continue to have an eye exam every year throughout school. Children’s eyes can change rapidly as they grow. During a comprehensive children’s vision and eye health exam your optometrist will:

  • Ask about the general health and birth history of your child
  • Review family history discuss how your child uses their eyes at school, sports and play
  • Conduct an external and internal health examination of your child’s eyes
  • Evaluate the alignment of their eyes
  • Check their ability of judge depth and colour
  • Check peripheral vision
  • Evaluate how will they see and determine if glasses are required

Parents, teachers and caregivers should be alert for signs and symptoms that could indicate your child has a visual problem, including

  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • An eye that turns in or out
  • Covering or closing one eye
  • Holding objects or reading material very close to the face
  • Avoiding books or near work
  • Tilting the head or unusual posture
  • Headaches
  • Losing place while reading
  • Squinting or excessive blinking

Children’s Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses and Other Treatments

If the eye doctor determines that a child has a vision problem, they will discuss the various treatment options which may include eyeglasses, contact lenses, an eye patch, vision therapy or myopia control. Most conditions are much easier to treat when they are caught early and the eyes are still developing, so it is important to discover and diagnose any eye and vision issues as early as possible.

If your child is in kindergarten, has an eye exam and it is determined that they require eyeglasses, the Alberta Association of Optometrists’ Eye See…Eye Learn program will provide a pair of glasses free of charge. To learn more about this program, visit www.optometrists.ab.ca/esel