Why Do Toddlers and Preschoolers Need Eye Exams?
Sometimes it seems like infants’ and toddlers’ lives are endless streams of doctor appointments for check-ups, vaccines, and the occasional marble that gets stuck up your toddler’s nose (One Fine Day, anyone?). Are eye exams really necessary at such a young age? The experts’ answer is “yes!”
As long as your child’s eyes are being checked regularly, you have no cause for concern.
Luckily, an eye exam for your little one rarely means a visit to a child optometrist. Whenever your child has a regular check-up, the doctor will examine your child’s eyes as well.
So, your child will already have had three eye exams in his or her first year of life. Why the frequent exams? The earlier childhood eye diseases are diagnosed, the more effective the treatment will be, according to WebMD.
Though an exam given by one doctor may differ slightly from that of another, all eye exams are designed to check for the same basic functions and problems. During the average toddler and preschooler eye exam, the doctor will:
- ask questions about any vision problems in your family history;
- look at the pupils to make sure they’re round and respond correctly to light;
- inspect the outside of your child’s eyes for any signs of infection, allergy, or disease;
- check your child’s eye movement for a problem called amblyopia (lazy eye); and
- check the reflection of light from the back of your child’s eyes, ensuring that there are no problems like cataracts or a tumor.
If the doctor finds anything unusual during the examination, your child will then be referred to an eye specialist for a more thorough exam. Don’t panic! A referral is not a diagnosis.
Should your child see an eye doctor on top of his routine exam? Medical professionals seem to disagree on this subject. On one hand, going to an eye specialist can be expensive—both in relation to time and money. But on the other hand, not all primary care physicians have the time or training to perform a thorough eye exam. Usually your child will not need a specialist, unless they’re referred to one; and if your child’s doctor is doing all of the above tests, you should have nothing to worry about! As long as your child’s eyes are being checked regularly, you have no cause for concern.