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When To Call Your Ophthalmologist

kids's eye care

Children who have not been screened by age 4 should have a complete eye exam to ensure proper development of vision prior to starting preschool.

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The timing at which your child should have an eye exam varies greatly from person to person. Premature infants are examined in the NICU shortly after birth to ensure proper development of the retina and are followed very closely for the first several months of life. Children with a family history of pediatric eye tumors (retinoblastoma) or pediatric cataracts should be seen in the first month of life. Those with a strong family history of amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (eye misalignment) should be seen around 1 year old.

You should schedule a complete eye exam at any time if you notice any eye misalignment, even intermittently, in your child or if he or she chronically closes one eye, complains of blurred vision, squints often or doesn’t seem to see as well as parents or siblings. Excessive tearing, redness or discharge from the eyes as well as chronic eye pain or light sensitivity should be addressed as they arise.

Children without a strong family history, who seem to be seeing well, should be screened by their pediatrician at yearly well visits. This can be a simple eye examination by the physician, screening with a photoscreener, or use of a wall chart to assess visual acuity. Children who struggle with vision screening should be referred for complete eye examination.