As a parent, it’s natural you want to get your child off to a great start in life and that means ensuring all their healthcare needs are met, and that includes eye health. Whether you have an infant, toddler, or school-aged child, you might be wondering at what age or should take your child for an eye test? Abernethy Owens is a trusted optometrist in Perth, providing expert care and optometry services in our 5 conveniently located practices. Read on for a helpful guide on taking your child to the optometrist.

The First Eye Test

Children don’t know if their vision isn’t normal, so we can’t expect them to tell us. Early childhood eye exams are essential to ensure normal visual development and early detection of any vision problems that could affect academic performance as a child reaches school age. Optometry Australia recommends:

  • Your child’s first eye test should be done before the age of 6 months.
  • This should be followed by one eye exam at the age of 3 years and another at the age of 6 years.
  • A child’s eyes should be tested annually if a treatment was suggested by the practitioner at their first eye exam, or once every two years if no treatment has been suggested.

Some of the common problems picked up in young children may include eye turns, short-sightedness (myopia) and long-sightedness (hyperopia) and allergy conditions. In rare situations, an optometrist may also diagnose a serious or life-threatening condition which may be picked up as an eye health problem.

Signs Your Child Should See an Optometrist

Around 1 in 4 Australian children experience an eyesight problem that could interfere with their education and behaviour, so caring for their vision is a necessity. If your child is displaying any of the below symptoms, it may indicate a problem with their eyesight:

  • Headaches and tired eyes – often a sign of farsightedness
  • Squinting and heavy blinking - may indicate blurry vision
  • Tilting their head to the side - their eyes don’t line up properly or may be crossed
  • Lower grades in school or poor handwriting skills - might reveal poor eye-hand coordination and depth perception, often a result of lazy eye.

What Are the Types of Visual Screening Tests for Infants and Children?

There are many different types of tests that can be used to evaluate a child’s vision. Some of them can be used at any age, while others are use according to a child's age and understanding.

Vision Tests for Babies

  • Response to light -where a baby blinks in response to a bright light.
  • Pupil response – this measures the response of the pupil by shining a light in the eye.
  • Ability to follow a target – one of the most common vision acuity tests in babies, this checks their ability to focus on and follow an object.

Visual Screening Tests for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers

Some of the above tests may be done, as well as:

  • Cover and uncover test - this checks the alignment of the eyes when a child is focusing on an object.
  • Visual acuity tests (usually from age 3) – where specific tests and charts are used to measure both near and distant vision.
  • Colour testing - helps to detect colour blindness in a child.

Older Children

In school aged children, formal vision tests can be completed with special charts or devices that aid with testing vision. Both near and far vision can be evaluated.

Children rarely report vision problems as they assume everyone sees the same way as they do. That’s why it is vital to have your child’s eyes checked regularly by a professional optometrist. At Abernethy Owens, we are highly experienced in testing children’s eyesight and treating children’s eye conditions, and we do our best to ensure all children are comfortable and at ease during their eye examination. Our comprehensive eye test is essential to detecting vision problems early on, before they cause bigger issues later in life. Make an appointment with our friendly team online today.