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What You Need to Know About Your Child’s First Eye Exam

Posted on February 23rd, 2017

Many Canadians believe getting a regular eye exam is something that only adults or older children need to worry about. This simply isn't the case. In fact, Doctors of Optometry Canada recommends infants have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age, and that children between the ages of 2 and 5 have at least one eye exam before starting school (or as soon as you notice any eye-related issues). Depending on what province you live in, children’s eye exams may be covered in full up to the age of 18. Check what your province provides on our blog.

For newborns, the first few months are a time of rapid development when it comes to their vision. One of the first things your optometrist will look for during your baby’s first eye exam is the telltale signs of strabismus (also known as "crossed eyes"). It's quite common for a baby's eyes to appear crossed or misaligned during the first few months, but your doctor will be able to tell for certain if there's an issue. If your child does have strabismus, it's important that it's detected early on so that his or her eyes don't continue to develop with the issue. In most cases, strabismus can be treated with the use of glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy, or surgery when the child is older.

During your baby’s first eye exam, your optometrist will also look for a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye). This occurs when there is weak vision or vision loss in one eye. This can be treated with vision therapy, eyeglasses, contact lenses, or a temporary eyepatch. If left untreated, amblyopia can lead to blindness in the affected eye, which is why it's important that it's detected early on. Read our blog about new ways the condition is being treated.

Between the ages of 2 and 5, your child's vision will continue to develop at a rapid pace. During this period, you should be on alert for any symptoms that may indicate your toddler has a visual problem, including:

  • Red, itchy, or watering eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Squinting, eye rubbing, or excessive blinking
  • Covering or closing one eye
  • Holding objects too close
  • Moving closer to the television

If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to book an eye exam as soon as possible. Ensuring your infant or toddler's eyes are healthy early on will allow them to continue to see the world in the best way possible throughout the rest of their life.

To book an eye exam for your infant or toddler, contact an FYidoctors location near you.