Eye exams and visual screening
When are eye examinations necessary?
A child's brain is rapidly developing, and visual problems can disrupt the development of visual pathways to his brain. A critical stage of visual development occurs in the first months of life, when the brain should receive clear visual messages from both eyes.
Vision screening is performed by your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider beginning shortly after birth. Because your child can’t often tell you when he’s having vision problems, screening helps identify young patients who may need further eye examinations and testing.
- Early detection and treatment can prevent loss of vision, learning difficulties and delayed child development.
- The earlier vision problems are detected, the more successful the treatment will be.
What types of eye exams should I expect my child’s doctor to perform?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have recommended the following screening stages, to be performed by your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider:
- Newborn: All newborns are examined in the nursery for eye infections and other eye disorders, such as glaucoma and cataracts.
- A child age 6 months: During well-baby visits, your child's primary care doctor should screen your baby's vision and look at the light reflections in both eyes (sometimes called the "red eye" reflection in photographs) to check for asymmetry.
- A child age 3 to 4 years: Formal visual acuity tests and a complete eye examination should be performed.
- A child age 5 years and older: Annual vision screening tests and eye examinations should be performed.