The months while you’re expecting a baby and the time after your little one has joined the family are a whirlwind of emotions, new experiences, and visits with your medical team. It’s important not to neglect their eyes as a part of these welcome-to-the-world checkups.
Children take in a vast amount of information about their surroundings through their sight. Make sure they’re seeing well and developing healthily with eye exams from your family optometrist. Your little one’s first eye exam can help monitor for common eye problems in children and establish a baseline to watch for any unexpected changes in their eyes.
Your child should have their first eye exam around 6 months. An exam around this age can determine if:
Once you’ve brought them in for their initial exam, we recommend that your child has their eyes checked annually going forward. Routine eye exams ensure that any changes or internal problems are caught promptly.
Of course, this is only a guideline. Your child may need to see their optometrist more often if a visual problem or eye condition is discovered or if they’re at risk for developing eye problems. Risk factors include:
When it comes to an eye exam schedule or treatment plan, your optometrist will be able to determine the best course of action for your child’s eyes.
An infant’s eye exam looks different from the eye exam you as an adult are familiar with. For instance, very young children cannot tell us if they have vision problems, so many of the tests used focus on what the optometrist and parents can observe.
Children’s eye exams are performed with the utmost care and aim to keep your child as comfortable as possible. Generally, parents will be asked to help keep their child calm and cooperative during the exam.
The exam will involve:
In Alberta, children’s eye exams are covered under our provincial healthcare plan until they reach 19 years of age. Don’t let cost concerns stop you from getting your child the best in early eye care.
Eye health plays a major role in our overall wellness. By the time children reach grade school, 1 in 4 kids has developed a vision problem, and since 80% of what children learn in school is presented visually, this can present problems.
Children who struggle to see clearly may find themselves frustrated, disinterested, or discouraged with their education. They may become restless or distracted in class—sometimes vision problems are misdiagnosed as a neurodivergence like ADHD.
Common childhood eye conditions can progress as they age if left untreated. This includes:
Getting your child’s eyes examined early also forms a baseline that aids in evaluating any visual changes. Eye exams can also shed light on other conditions or diseases that affect multiple areas of the body. The best offence is a good defence—start your little one’s eye health journey as soon as possible.
As a parent, you can help guard your child against vision problems. Outside of their annual exam, you can keep watch for signs of vision problems that may crop up. Remember, children may not realize their vision is compromised—they may assume everyone sees the same way they do.
Signs to note include:
Educating yourself about children’s typical visual development milestones can also help you make sure your child’s sight is developing healthily.
Another perk of bringing your child in for eye exams early and regularly? It sets the precedence for the remainder of their life that their eye health matters.
Set a good example for your children from infancy to their teenage years: