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Everything You Need to Know About Children's Eye Exams

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Children’s eye exams are critical in diagnosing any refractive or other vision problems early. They are essential in helping your child have healthy vision lifelong, this is because children adapt the best to treatment plans used to correct many visual deficiencies.

The OAO (Ontario Association of Optometrists) say that children should have their eyes checked by an Optometrist by the age of 6 months and then on an annual basis after that.

Infants can only see light and dark blurred images at birth, during their first few months their vision develops and extends from arm’s length to across the room. By 6 months they begin to control their eye-movements and use them to start developing hand-eye coordination, which are essential in the following months as your baby begins to learn to crawl.

It is important your child sees an optometrist prior to entering kindergarten, to check their vision and ensure optimal eye health. Eye doctors also have kid-friendly ways to check your child’s visual acuity (or ability) by using charts with animals or shapes rather than letters or numbers.

The Importance of Children’s Eye Exams:

Kids eye exams are essential in determining your child’s visual ability; which is key in their early development.

Kid’s eye exams measure your child’s:

  1. Near and distance vision

  2. Eye Coordination

  3. Focusing skills

  4. Peripheral vision and field of vision

  5. Hand-eye coordination

During your child’s first 6 months they are still learning to control their eye movements, as a result their eyes can sometimes cross involuntarily. If the eyes continue to do this after 6 months of age it is important to see an optometrist immediately.

Conditions such strabismus (crossed-eyes) and amblyopia (or “lazy eye”) can appear in children at an early age, early diagnosis is pivotal in treating and often curing these conditions. Lazy eye is the inability to see clearly in one eye, strabismus is one of the most common causes of lazy eye but can occur without the presence of “crossed-eyes”.

These conditions can be treated by your optometrist once the root-cause is determined, these conditions can often be treated with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or patching and other forms of vision therapy.

Children require polycarbonate lenses in their glasses; due to their shatter-resistance (protecting the eye from injury), and UV protected to keep your child’s eyes safe from harmful UVA/UVB rays. These lenses often come with scratch-resistant coatings which, when cared for properly help maintain the longevity of your child’s prescription eyeglasses.

How often should kids visit an Eye Doctor?

Your child’s first eye exam should be completed by 6 months, then return annually or sooner if recommended by your optometrist.

It is crucial for children to receive a comprehensive eye exam prior to entering school, to catch any refractive errors causing blurred vision or other conditions that may require treatment. Undiagnosed refractive errors can account for a large amount of focusing and learning problems in school-age children, making yearly eye exams extremely important in your child’s development.

Depending on family history and your child’s case a different check-up schedule may be recommended by your optometrist to recheck vision as your child grows and develops.

Did you know that OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) covers one eye exam per year for your child until they turn the age of 20?

Your child’s eye exams are covered once per year by their Ontario health card to ensure your children receive the vision care they need to grow, develop and succeed.

Signs your child should see an Optometrist:

Even if you as a parent already wear glasses, it can be hard to determine any early warning signs your child may need to visit the eye doctor.

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  1. Squinting

  2. Sitting close to TV or holding items too close

  3. Rubbing of eyes (when not tired)

  4. Tilting of the head to see better

  5. Light sensitivity

  6. Closing of one eye

  7. Tearing or watery eyes

  8. Avoiding near work

  9. Complaints of Headaches

How to keep your Child’s Eyes Healthy:

  1. Visit an eye doctor at 6 months of age, returning annually or as prescribed by your optometrist

As in any case, catching a disease early gives the best outcome for treatment and this includes your child’s eyes. Children are the most responsive to treatments to correct vision and other conditions, so your best defense is always early diagnosis!

  1. Complete annual comprehensive eye exams

Making sure your child can see clearly is a great way to ensure their future learning and success as they grow!

  1. Follow your optometrist’s advice for treating your child’s vision

Fill the new prescription for eyeglasses provided by your eye doctor and stick to any schedules prescribed for use of tools such as eye-patches used to correct “lazy-eye”

  1. Plan ahead and schedule in advance Life gets busy, everyone can agree on that. Ask your optometrist to pre-appoint your child’s next eye exam a year in advance and just receive a reminder when it’s time for their next appointment.

Vision changes can still happen while following your eye exam schedule with your optometrist! Any sudden changes to symptoms or new complaints could mean it’s time to visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. Checking your children’s vision early and on a regular basis is the best way to keep their eyes healthy and make sure your child can see clearly and succeed!

We provide comprehensive eye exam for children and adults in Port Credit, Mississauga. Our Optometrists are certified and experienced in providing pediatric vision care!


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