Children's Eye Exam

As a parent, it is important to have your child's eyes checked regularly. This is essential to ensure that their vision is adequate for both near and far, as well as to determine the overall health of their eyes.

Since many vision problems begin at an early age, it is necessary that children receive proper eye care. The effects of poor eyesight can be detrimental to people of all ages, but it can be particularly afflicting to children since they are still moving through many stages of physical development. Their learning ability, athletic performance, and even self-esteem can all be directly impacted by their vision health. This is why children should regularly receive eye exams, even into high school.

It is also important for kids who have parents with vision problems to get their eyes checked often, as they will have a high risk of developing the same disorders that their parents suffer from.

Generally, children may not be aware of what "normal vision" is, and it's rare for children to complain about problems with their eyes. If your child is underperforming at school, it may be due to a vision problem, and you should schedule a compressive eye exam with your optometrist.


For babies, the first eye exam should be scheduled around 6 months of age, unless your pediatrician recommends otherwise. From that point on, your optometrist will arrange a schedule for upcoming visits. After age 3, children should start having normal eye exams and should undergo at least one more exam before they begin their schooling. Eye exams at regular intervals after that should be the norm, unless otherwise advised by a medical professional.

For kids, having an eye exam before the age of 6 is ideal. School screenings are a great start, but these can miss minor issues.

According to The Ontario Association of Optometrists, 1 out of every 5 children has a vision problem. This is why you must schedule your child's first eye exam either:

  1. Prior to entering kindergarten
  2. When they start kindergarten

If there is a family history of eye disease, eye examinations should be undergone as early as after one year of age.

Detecting vision problems in children isn't as difficult as it sounds. All you have to do is take the time to observe your children and discover whether they are seeing properly or not. Ask your optometrist how you might be able to test this.

Kids and most adults with blunt trauma, diabetes, or who have undergone eye surgery or have other systemic conditions should have a yearly eye exam at least. Consult your optometrist today!


The vision test for kids is quite similar to an adult's, with some small differences. For children, an optometrist won't ask the same complex questions during a comprehensive eye exam, as young children may not understand or know the answers. Children are also not required to recognize/read alphabet eye charts, depending on age. Pediatric optometrists have special eye charts with cars, motorboats, ducks, and hands, if a child cannot yet read the alphabet well. Eye exams can still be performed even if a child isn't talking yet.

The CAO - Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that a comprehensive eye exam for children should include:

  • A review of the child's vision history and health
  • An eye health exam
  • Tests for farsightedness, nearsightedness, color blindness, eye coordination, focusing ability, depth perception, lazy eye, and astigmatism.


Children's eye exams play a crucial role in ensuring academic achievement and normal visual development. The close relation between vision and the learning process practically ensures that children with undetected or undiagnosed vision problems will face related academic challenges, especially during class if they are seated far from the board or screen.

Children with poor vision may feel separated from the crowd because poor eyesight can affect their self-esteem. A child with a lazy eye (amblyopia) may not like mingling with other children. However, many of these issues can be corrected with a simple eye exam.

The CAO - Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends an eye exam for children before their 3rd birthday and to continue this routine each year while the child is in school. This is to detect common eye problems such as lazy eye (amblyopia), crossed-eyes (strabismus), or the need for glasses.


Before your child's first appointment with an eye specialist, it is expected that they know exactly what will happen during the exam. Here are a few things you could possibly explain to your child prior to an eye examination:

  • Tell them exactly what to expect at the eye exam. You should tell him/her that the doctor will look into their eyes with a shining light. You should also assure them that the examination won't hurt and that needles are not required.
  • If your child will need glasses in order to correct vision problems, tell them that wearing glasses can be something to be thankful for, as it will help them in school and increase their ability to see
  • Explain the possibility of eye drops to your child as their eyes may need to be dilated before the exam

By telling your children exactly what to expect, you make eye exam easier and less scary for them.


During a child's eye exam, the doctor will check for farsightedness, nearsightedness, reaction of the eyes to light, astigmatism, proper alignment, movement ability, amblyopia (lazy eye), and some other general vision problems.

Eye drops may be used during eye examinations. Eye drops allow the doctor to perform the physical exam by dilating the pupil. Vision screening will also be performed to determine whether or not your child will need corrective lenses.