Visual skills are essential to ensure your children do well in school (80% of learning is visual) sports or any other activities they participate in. For this reason, it is important to get your child to their first eye appointment at around six months old. By this age, your child will be experiencing sharper vision, increasingly precise colour vision and improving eye movement. Some pediatricians will assess your child’s vision around this time and refer you to an optometrist if vision issues are suspected. However, if they don’t perform an assessment, be sure to book an eye exam with an eye doctor yourself. Without an early evaluation, poor vision could affect your youngster for the rest of their lives. The first eye appointment can be daunting to some parents. As few of us remember our first eye appointment, it is unknown territory. To demystify the first rendezvous, here is a summary of what to expect for you and your child.
1. What to expect
The way an eye exam is conducted can depend on your child’s age, and the optometrist. Generally, early exams include going over medical and family history, vision testing, and, if necessary, assessing which eyeglasses are suitable.
2. Medical History
When telling your doctor about your child’s medical history be sure to notify the doctor if your child experiences the following:
- Premature at birth
- Late motor development
- Excessive eye rubbing
- Frequent blinking
- Little to no eye contact
- Issues maintaining gaze on objects
- Low eye tracking skills
An optometrist will usually want to know about parental history as well, so be sure to let them know if either parents have vision problems such as lazy eyes, near sightedness or far sightedness. Similarly, inform the doctor of any family history of eye diseases such as glaucoma.
3. Vision testing
At your baby’s first appointment, the optometrist will usually run a few tests to see if your child’s eyesight is developing properly. As a baby is too young to use an eye chart, the doctor will use a variety of other tests such as these:
Pupil Response Tests:
This test will evaluate whether the eyes’ pupils open and close properly
Fix and Follow:
This is a test to determine if your baby is able to fixate and follow an object as it moves
Usually uses cards that will attract your child’s gaze
These tests are to determine whether your child is developing the proper vision skills, such as:
- Near vision
- Distance vision
- Binocular coordination
- Eye movement skills
- Focusing skills
- Peripheral awareness
- Hand-eye coordination
If your child does experience any issues during the testing, do not stress. The optometrist will suggest a course of action, and, as they are still young, the prognosis and outlook for your child is usually positive. Be sure to follow any advice your optometrist gives you to ensure your child has the best vision possible throughout their lives.
If your child does need glasses, do not worry. By treating eye problems from an early age, your child may not have to wear glasses by the time they are an adult, as long as glasses are worn as prescribed. Today, there are many options for young children. Your optometrist will work with you and your child to find a pair that is suitable for the level of activity and the prescription your child requires. Be sure to book regular check ups for your child as their prescription may change. If your child’s vision improves and they are still wearing a too-strong prescription, then it can actually damage their eyes.
5. After the Appointment
After the first appointment at six months old, the optometrist may want to see you and your child again for a follow-up or to keep up with any treatment. If not, remember to get your little one’s eyes re-assessed before they start school to ensure they have not developed any issues that may inhibit their learning.
6. Making the Appointment
When making an appointment, pick a time where you think your child will be the most alert. Chose a time that fits with your routine, usually in the morning or after naptime. Like the rest of their bodies, eyes will get fatigued too. While a child’s mood and behaviour can be unpredictable, ensuring your child is well rested for the appointment will give a more accurate assessment of their vision.
Vu has experienced staff and optometrists available for your child’s first eye appointment. To make an appointment at our Montreal location, contact us.