The current professional recommendation is that every child has a comprehensive eye exam by age three. After that point, annual eye exams are needed in conjunction with behavioral monitoring that may identify symptoms of visual difficulties.
A child who sits close to the television, moves objects closer to see them or who squints when they read is exhibiting clear signs that they may need eyeglasses. However, visual difficulties aren’t always so readily noticeable. This is one of the reasons why children need to have regular eye exams. Additional reasons include:
- Vision is critical to a child’s ability to read. In a study of 492 preschool-aged children, researchers discovered that uncorrected farsightedness was associated with poor performance on literacy tests conducted to evaluate reading readiness.
- Visual impairment in most children is caused by an uncorrected refractive error (difficulty seeing near or far. Prescription eyeglasses can help offset these errors.
- Research indicates that more children are affected by vision problems today than previously. It is estimated that, by 2060, we will see a 26% increase in vision impairment in children than existed in 2015.
- Visual impairment among multiracial children is expected to increase by 137% by 2060.
- Cases of childhood myopia in America have more than doubled in the last 50 years. The multi-ethnic pediatric eye disease study, the largest study of childhood eye diseases to be conducted in our country, discovered that African-American children are most at risk for myopia. This and other comprehensive studies have helped the medical field develop evidence-based guidelines related to childhood screening for eye disorders.
An eye exam is an expert evaluation of vision and eye health. An ophthalmologist is the best healthcare provider to perform this exam due to the clinical tools and advanced training they have. Eye exams are important to ensure poor vision does not interfere with school performance and personal safety. Though the process is simple, a comprehensive eye exam can determine that a child has the essentials for optimal learning, including:
- Optimal visual acuity at all distances
- Good eye teaming ability
- Accuracy in eye movement
- Accurate focusing skills