The Why, When, and What of Your Childs Eye Exam

As soon as you bring your baby home you go through a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘to dos’. In Alberta, babies typically receive a visit in the first 24 hours from the home healthcare nurse, and next up you book your infant in for a first check-up with your family doctor. But, did you know that your child should begin pediatric eye testing at 6 months old? Don't panic if your child hasn’t been to the optometrist yet as there is comprehensive testing from the ages of 6 months old through to the teenage years. Follow along as we share exactly:

  • Why eye exams for children are so important
  • When to book their exams and
  • What to expect at your child’s optometrist appointment

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Why Book an Eye Exam For Your Child​

Booking your child in for regular optometry appointments is more important than you might realize. Early detection and intervention of vision problems is critical to their overall health. Children use their eyes to absorb so much information about the world around them that when your child has an undiagnosed visual impairment it can cause delays in their development ability to learn.
Some signs that your child is possibly dealing with a visual impairment:

  • A history of delayed developmental milestones
  • Slowed motor skills
  • Persistent rubbing of their eyes
  • Constant blinking
  • Inability to maintain eye contact
  • Little or no tracking skills

In older children some other signs to book them in for a pediatric eye exam are:

  • Difficulty maintaining eye contact
  • Squinting when attempting to read the chalkboard or while watching TV
  • Sitting too close to the TV or hunching towards the computer screen
  • Sitting at the front of the classroom in an attempt to see more clearly
  • Holding books close to their face to read
  • A general reluctance to participate in sports that require seeing at a distance

These indicate that a child of any age may be experiencing vision issues that need to be addressed. Contact your Calgary optometrist at Sunridge Eye Clinic today to book your children’s eye exam to help protect your child’s visual health.

What Ages to Book and What to Expect

There are important vision cues that an experienced Optometrist will recognize during your child’s eye exam. A doctor skilled in pediatric optometry will be able to complete a comprehensive and telling vision test for your child regardless of age.

Infant Eye Care Testing: Your child should be booked for their first routine exam between six months and two years to be tested for initial vision development markers by a qualified pediatric optometrist. Things your optometrist will look for are eye focusing, tracking, and the ability to see colour, and depth perception. There are three ways to test for these things in a baby:

  • Your eye doctor will use a light to measure your baby’s pupil response.
  • They will then observe the baby's ability to fixate on and follow an object as they move.
  • Your optometrist will test and measure your infant’s vision using cards that are blank on one side and striped on the other, to attract their gaze.

Preschool Eye Exams: From the ages 2-5 your child is learning about the world around them through play and preparing for the school years. At this age, your optometrist will complete a more comprehensive test to measure ocular health, 3D vision, ability to see colour, and eye-tracking. During these formative years your optometrist can assist with things such as a recommendation for protective eyewear for sports, helping your child with Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye,  and suggestions for corrective lenses if needed.

At Sunridge Eye Clinic we are committed to connecting families with affordable eye care. Alberta Health Care covers the cost of your child’s eye exams in the province until the age of eighteen and children going into kindergarten can receive free eyeglasses through the EYE SEE EYE LEARN (ESEL) program. Please reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help.
Eye Examinations for Older Kids: As your child gets older keeping routine eye exams are an important part of their continued growth and development. As your child ages, it is important to recognize and treat signs of vision issues. At your older child’s eye exam we will test for:

  • Visual Acuity: nearsightedness and farsightedness
  • Visual Focus: the ability to switch between two objects at a distance and maintaining clear vision while doing so
  • Hand-Eye Coordination: coordinating the hands with your vision to play sports or create art
  • Perception: the ability to recognize, understand and retain information through sight
  • Object Tracking: following a line of text or a ball in the air with your eyes

There are many ways to protect the health of your children and regular children’s eye exams are vital. When you take your child for their assessment at Sunridge Eye Clinic you can know they are in qualified and experienced hands in a supportive and disarming environment.

From Ages 0-18: We Take Care of Your Child’s Vision​

It’s never too early or too late to book your child’s eye exam. Our team will use a variety of pediatric eye tests to help determine if there is any need for glasses now, or possibly in the future. Keep your child on track with optimal vision for learning and book your appointment today.

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How to prepare my young child for an eye exam?

For many children, and parents, the first optometrist appointment can be a little unnerving. Although there is nothing to be scared of, and your child’s eye exam will not hurt, it is a new place with big machines and people they have never met before! Here are some tips to prepare for a children’s eye exam:

  • Reassure your child that the eye doctor is going to help and that the appointment will not hurt one bit!
  • Explain what will happen when they arrive at the eye doctor’s office so they know what to expect. If you don’t know, reach out and ask the admin team so you can prepare your child.
  • Bring your child with you to your eye exam to observe just how easy it all really is. Seeing you go through it first will calm their nerves.

How much do Children’s Eye Exams cost in Alberta?

Some optometry services are covered for Alberta residents. Children under the age of 18 are eligible for one complete eye exam, one partial exam, and one diagnostic procedure per benefit year (July 1 to June 30), and through the Eye See…Eye Learn program children of kindergarten age who need corrective glasses are provided with a free pair. There is no application process to take part in this program. Contact us for more information.
How do I know if my child needs glasses?

In addition to the common clues like squinting, rubbing their eyes, and holding books and devices closely to the face there are some other signs that your child may be in need of corrective lenses. Some things to watch for are:

  • Complaints of headaches or dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive clumsiness
  • Frustration with activities that rely heavily on sight

Whatever has made you pause and wonder about your child’s eye health,  it is always best to have your concerns addressed by a reliable optometrist for a children’s eye examination.

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