Make Eye Exams a Top Priority for Back-to-School

To give your child a head start as school begins, schedule a vision screening or comprehensive eye exam during Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends regular vision screening for all preschool and school-aged children. Equal input from the right and left eye are essential for the brain’s vision centers to mature normally, so early intervention is imperative.

Vision Screenings for Children

Preschool Children

When your child turns three, visit your pediatrician for an eye alignment assessment, and even earlier if problems are suspected. This will test how well your child’s eyes focus and function together. If necessary, your doctor may refer you to an ophthalmologist for conditions like amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes) or ptosis (drooping eyelid).

School-Aged Children

As soon as your child can read an eye chart with symbols or letters, your pediatrician or ophthalmologist can begin visual acuity exams. These simple vision screenings can quickly diagnose refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the most common refractive error and can be easily corrected with eyeglasses.

What is the Difference Between a Vision Screening and a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

A vision screening can detect a vision problem, but it cannot diagnose the specific condition. For example, if your child fails an eye test during a routine vision screening at school, you will only receive a written notice of a suspected vision problem. Also, remember that there are possible limitations of a school vision screening such as untrained volunteers or inadequate equipment.

A comprehensive eye exam is performed by a licensed eye care specialist and includes several tests, such as eye dilation, to provide an accurate diagnosis of your child’s vision condition as well as treatment options.

Before you go shopping for school supplies or uniforms, put “eye exam” at the top of your back-to-school to-do list. And remember eye safety when purchasing gear for school athletics (you can ask your ophthalmologist about the proper eye protection). For more information about sports and eye safety, read our article: Sports that Pose the Greatest Risk to the Eye.

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