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If you’re wondering what the difference is between a vision screening test (the kind you received in school) and a comprehensive eye exam, a vision screening only indicates a potential need for further evaluation. Even the most sophisticated vision screening tools, administered by the most highly trained screeners, miss one-third of children with eye or vision disorders.  A brief examination of your child’s eyes and a vision screening by a pediatrician or family practice doctor is not a substitute for an eye exam performed by an eye doctor.

Why children's eye exams are important
Eye exams for children are very important to ensure your child's eyes are healthy and there are no vision problems that could interfere with school performance or affect your child's safety.
Early eye exams also are important because children need the following visual skills that are essential for optimal learning:  good visual acuity at all distances, eyes that work together accurately and comfortably, good eye movement and accurate focusing skills.
Some parents are surprised to learn that preschool-age children do not need to know their letters in order to have a successful eye exam, even when they are too young or too shy to verbalize.
Specifics of how eye exams are conducted depend on your child's age, but generally an exam will include a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health evaluation and, if needed, prescription of eyewear.

When to have your child's eyes examined
A child should have their first comprehensive eye examination by the age of three, or sooner should any of the following issues be noticed:

  • Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close

  • Squinting

  • Tilting their head

  • Frequently rubbing their eyes

  • Short attention span for the child’s age

  • Turning of an eye in or out

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding

  • Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles, and other detailed activities


School-aged children should have an eye exam at least every two years if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by your eye doctor.

Preparing your child for their exam
To make your child’s first visit to the eye doctor an easy one, consider the following suggestions: 1) Schedule your appointment for earlier in the day or choose a time when he or she usually is alert and happy. 2) Before your child’s appointment, have a discussion about the eye examination and encourage them to ask questions and discuss potential fears; 3)  Prepare your child for the use of eye drops during the examination. Explain that these eye drops won’t hurt them. They may sting a bit, but only momentarily. Be honest with your child and reassure them.

Vision screening and performance in school
Remember that appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to insure your child has the visual skills he or she needs to perform well in school.
A child who is unable to see print or view a blackboard can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance. 
Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected as early as possible while the child's vision system is still developing. 

Dr. Bestwina enjoys working with children and strives to provide a relaxed, calm environment.  The goal is for the eye exam to be a fun and informative experience for both children and parents.

Small Child with Large Glasses

Eye Testing for Infants - InfantSEE Program

From birth, babies begin exploring the wonders in the world with their eyes. Even before they learn to reach and grab with their hands or crawl and sit-up, their eyes are providing information and stimulation important for their development. Healthy eyes and good vision play a critical role in how infants and children learn to see. Eye and vision problems in infants can cause developmental delays. It is important to detect conditions early to ensure babies have the opportunity to develop the visual abilities they need to grow and learn. 


InfantSEE®, a public health program, managed by Optometry Cares® -The AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child's quality of life. Under this program, participating doctors of optometry provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age free of charge regardless of family income or access to insurance coverage.

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