When Should A Toddler See An Eye Doctor?

Child holding eye exam equipment

Just like any other part of a toddler’s body, his eyes should be checked early. Children should have assessments for eye issues soon after birth, and at subsequent doctor visits. Those who have a family history of a genetic eye disease as well as premature babies should be seen in the nursery. Babies are usually screened three times during their first year. They are then screened at three years old and every two years later.

General Eye Health

During the exam, the doctor will take a small light and shine it into the eyes to check eye alignment and pupils, and a scope to find any possible abnormalities at the back of the eyes.The doctor will check your toddler’s eyelids, iris, cornea, and anything else around the eye to make sure everything is healthy and developing properly. He will also check for excessive tears and discharge, which may be a sign of allergies, infection or other problems.

Ocular History

Your eye doctor will want to know you if you’ve seen anything unusual with your child’s eyes. For example, does one eyelid droop or does your child seem to hold objects close to his face.The doctor will also need to know your child’s family history. If your family has a hereditary eye condition, the doctor may suggest visit regular visits so he can keep watch for genetic conditions your child may be at risk for.

Vision Assessment

Your toddler is too young for a standard eye chart, but the doctor can still assess for vision using special charts with big pictures or toys.The doctor will ask your child to focus on an object, like a toy, and follow it with either one eye or both eyes. Doctors are trained in getting children’s attention. But if your little one doesn’t feel cooperative, the results may be inaccurate, and you’ll have to come back for a recheck.

Ocular Motility Assessment

This term refers to the test that checks if the eyes move properly. The doctor shines a small light into the eyes to see if the reflection is the same, and may also ask your child to focus on an object to evaluate the movement of his eyes. If the eyes don’t work as a pair, he may have a lazy eye. Most of the time, a temporary patch can fix the problem.

Red-Reflex Test

You’ve probably noticed that your child’s eyes sometimes look red in pictures. That’s a sign of healthy eyes. During the test, red reflex should be the same when a small light is flashed in the eyes.

If your child’s doctor sees anything unusual during the examination, he’ll order a more intensive exam. Pediatric optometrists specialize in babies, but you don’t necessarily need a children’s eye doctor as he grows. Regular optometrists take toddlers as patients. Make sure you let the office know you are scheduling a eye exam for a child so they can be prepared with the right equipment.