As your child grows from infant/toddler (birth to 24 months old), to preschooler (2 to 5 years old), and eventually to school-age (6 to 18 years old), their eyes and vision will continue to grow and play an important role in their learning and development.
We expect your child to meet certain developmental milestones for their oculo-visual system at different ages. For example, often children will not have 20/20 adult levels of vision until they are 6 to 8 years old as a part of their normal development. Their eyes will also undergo a process called emmetropization where the ocular optical system aims to end up focusing accurately with no need for eyeglasses.
However, sometimes children do not meet oculo-visual expectations and require help for their vision to develop appropriately. The most common problems that arise are the need for significant eyeglass prescriptions and/or problems with eye alignment/binocularity which may also result in amblyopia (also known as “lazy eye”). These children may have no obvious symptoms at the time of their eye exam. For these children, early intervention is critical to be able to obtain the best possible visual outcome. For this reason, it is very important for young children to have regular eye exams.
We recommend that a child see an eye doctor to have their first eye examination by 6 to 12 months old and sooner if there are any problems or concerns. We will then usually recommend an annual eye examination. If your child is already older and has never had an eye exam then they should be seen as soon as possible.
We are often asked how we are able to examine a child if they can’t read or even talk yet. Just like for adults, some of the key areas we assess are visual acuity (size of detail seen), refractive error (such as myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism), binocular vision, and ocular health. For children, we adapt and use exam techniques which are appropriate for your child’s age. We do our utmost to be careful and thorough, and aim for your child to have a pleasant and hopefully fun experience in the process.
As optometrists, it is always a special privilege to be able see our youngest patients. It is a joy being able to play a small but important part in their lives and their visual world!
Dr. Oliver Chong, Optometrist