ZocdocAnswersWhat age should a child see an optometrist for the first time?

Question

What age should a child see an optometrist for the first time?

I've recently noticed that my toddler is squinting her eyes when watching the TV and reading books. When we are driving down the street and I ask her to find letters on signs that we pass by, she tells me that she doesn't see letters. Most of my family members have worn glasses or contacts for as long as I can remember. I am concerned that she has bad eyesight and may need glasses, but with how young she is, I'm not sure if an optometrist would be able to examine her. What age should a child see an optometrist for the first time, and do some optometrists specialize in treating young children like mine?

Answer

Your child seems to display signs of potential eyesight problem. I suggest that you contact her pediatrician who can help you determine whether you should be concerned. Routine eye examinations are important to make sure that your child's eyes and vision are developed normally. They are an important way of detecting eye problems before the symptoms emerge. Vision development and many sight-threatening diseases can be more easily corrected if treatment is begun early. The American Optometric Association recommends that your child's eyes be screened for problems at age 6 months, at age 3 years, and before first grade, followed by routine exams every two years. This is often incorporated into pediatrician and preschool checkups. In addition, since your child has an increased risk of vision problem due to your family history of eye problem, his eye care provider might suggest that his eyes be checked more frequently. Optometrists are trained and licensed to examine the eyes and diagnose and treat vision problems with glasses, contacts and therapy in adults as well as in young children. Do make sure that your child's eyes are checked thoroughly at regular doctor visits. If you are not satisfied with the level of care, by all means get a second opinion from your pediatrician, ophthalmologist or another optometrist. The key is early detection and evaluation.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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