When should my child have a pediatric eye exam?
Not all children need a pediatric eye exam. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend a pediatric vision screening first to determine if your child needs a full eye examination. Your child’s pediatrician and specially trained screeners in schools perform these pediatric vision screenings, which should be done during certain ages:
- At birth, while still in the newborn nursery, as part of their neonatal physical examination
- At age six months, during their routine evaluation in the pediatrician’s office
- At age 3 ½, in the pediatrician’s office; this screening typically will include assessing visual acuity (sharpness of vision) on a picture type eye chart
- At age 5, either in the pediatrician’s office or at school
Further pediatric vision screenings are performed at routine medical check-ups, school checks or after the appearance of symptoms. If at any point your child fails the pediatric vision screening, you should schedule a complete pediatric eye examination.
Special consideration for infants
Even if infants pass the pediatric vision screening, they should undergo a full pediatric eye exam if they present specific symptoms that could indicate the presence of an eye condition, including:
- Poor tracking or visual behavior
- An eye that seems to wander, cross or drift
- An abnormal white pupil
The earlier pediatric eye conditions are caught, the better the outcome with treatment.
What should I expect during my child’s pediatric eye exam?
Try to arrive 10 minutes early to fill out the necessary paperwork, and bring insurance information and any required referral forms. You should plan to be in the ophthalmologist’s office for at least one hour. The pediatric eye exam is divided into two parts:
- Medical history and basic eye exam: This includes taking a full medical history, checking visual acuity, pupillary function and eye muscle function. We then place eye drops to dilate the pupils, a process that takes about 40 minutes to work.
- Eye structure and refractive exam: This involves examining the dilated eyes to review the major structures (cornea, iris, lens, retina and optic nerve) and determine the refractive state of the eyes (focus of the eye, or potential need for glasses).
After the examination, your pediatric ophthalmologist will discuss the findings and outline a treatment plan if needed, as well as answer any questions you may have. In addition, the ophthalmologist will schedule any necessary follow-up examinations.
At Henry Ford, patients come first.
The Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology is committed to providing our patients with compassionate, personalized care. We feature the most advanced treatments in eye care and are dedicated to vision research – always staying at the forefront of innovation. A leader in Michigan, as well as one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the United States, we treat more than 55,000 patients per year at 12 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it.