As a parent, you may wonder whether your preschooler has a vision problem or when you should schedule your child's first eye exam. Eye exams for children are extremely important, because 5-10% of preschoolers and 25% of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child's vision problem can be crucial because children often are more responsive to treatment when problems are diagnosed early.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6.
For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Early eye examinations are crucial to make sure children have normal, healthy vision so they can perform better at schoolwork or play.
Early eye exams also are important because children need the following basic skills related to good eyesight for learning: near vision, distance vision, binocular (two eyes) coordination, eye movement skills, focusing skills, peripheral awareness, hand-eye coordination. For these reasons, some states require a mandatory eye exam for all children entering school for the first time.