When Should My Toddler Get Their Eyesight Tested?

When you take your toddler to her well child visits at your regular health care provider, the doctor will generally test your child’s eyes for problems. If your health care provider determines that there is a problem with your toddler’s eyes, your health care provider may refer your toddler to an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eyes) or an optometrist (who helps with eyesight). Your pediatrician will generally be looking for things like eye infections or inflammations. Your health care provider will not typically test your toddler’s vision.

Unfortunately, most pediatricians and family doctors aren’t trained in giving vision exams. As such, many children go for a long time without having their vision checked. The American Optometric Association recommends that your child’s eyesight be tested by an optometrist at the age of six months and then again at the age of three years old. By the age of three, a child is more able to interact with the optometrist during an eyesight test. An optometrist can give your child a comprehensive optical exam and identify eyesight problems as well as any other ocular difficulties that your health care provider might have missed.

There are some signs that you can watch for in your toddler that might indicate a trouble with their eyesight. If their eyes don’t line up, or one eye looks in another direction, you should have her eyesight tested. If she rubs her eyes often, or closes or covers one eye, you should also have her eyes checked. Other signs can include regular squinting, becoming cranky when trying to look at things up close, or blinking more than normal. Certainly, if your toddler voices a concern about being able to see clearly, this should raise a flag for you as well.

Toddlers and younger children tend to do more compensating than complaining when it comes to eyesight problems. Watch for these behaviors, such as a toddler who tends to get right up into someone’s face when they are speaking. By being aware of the signs of potential eyesight problems, you may be able to address those problems early on.

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