You Child Eye Exam - What to expect

Your Child’s Eye Exam: What to Expect

Experts have different opinions on vision screening and eye exams for children. Talk to your doctor to see what’s right for you.

How Do I Prepare My Child?

If they’re old enough to understand what’s going on, sit down with them and explain what will happen during your doctor visit. Make sure they know the doctor will ask them to look at and identify objects. These could be pictures, letters, or shapes of light on the wall. Explain that the doctor may put drops in their eyes, but it won’t hurt. They might sting, but only for a few seconds. Be honest with your child and work with your doctor to reassure them.

What Tests Will the Doctor Do?

1 year and younger: The doctor will check:

If your pediatrician or family doctor suspects an eye problem, you’ll be referred to a pediatric eye doctor. Early diagnosis of childhood eye disease is crucial to effective treatment.

Ages 3-5: The eye doctor will do a physical exam of your child’s eyes and also do vision screenings using eye chart tests, pictures, letters, or the “tumbling E game.” This game measures how well your child sees the form and detail of objects. (Your doctor will call this visual acuity.)

The game, also called the Random E’s Visual Acuity Test, is a good option for kids who can’t read yet. The child is asked to identify the direction that the letter “E” opens to by holding out three or four fingers to mimic the letter “E.” You can practice this test at home before your appointment.

If your child is a bit older, they may be asked to identify pictures such as a plane, a house, a duck, or a hand. Correcting poor visual acuity is very important in a child’s sight development.

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is the loss of one eye’s ability to see details. Amblyopia is reversible when detected early. Treatment involves patching the better-seeing eye or blurring its vision using atropine drops. Amblyopia is the most common cause of vision problems in children.

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