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July 14, 2014: Children's Vision FAQs

Q How often should children have their eyes examined?
A According the American Optometric Association (AOA), kids should have routine eye exams at age 3 and again at age 5 or 6 (just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade). For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is needed. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually.

Q My 5-year-old daughter just had a vision screening at school and she passed. Does she still need an eye exam?
A Yes. School vision screenings are designed to detect gross vision problems. But kids can pass a screening at school and still have vision problems that can affect their learning and school performance. A comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist can detect vision problems a school screening may miss. Also a comprehensive eye exam includes an evaluation of your child's eye health, which is not part of a school vision screening.

Q Our 3-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with strabismus and amblyopia. What are the percentages of a cure at this age?
A With proper treatment the odds are very good. Many researchers believe the visual system can still develop better visual acuity up to about age 7. If your daughter's eye turn (strabismus) is constant, it's likely surgery will be necessary to straighten her eyes in order for her therapy for amblyopia (or lazy eye) to be successful. Strabismus surgery may be needed even if her eyes alternate in their misalignment. See a pediatric ophthalmologist who specializes in strabismus surgery for more information.

Q My son is 5 years old and has 20/40 vision in both eyes. Should I be concerned, or could this improve with time?
A Usually, 5-year-olds can see 20/25 or better. But keep in mind that visual acuity testing is a subjective matter—during the test, your child is being asked to read smaller and smaller letters on a wall chart. Sometimes, kids give up at a certain line on the chart when they can actually read smaller letters. Other times, they may say they can't read smaller letters because they want glasses. (Yes, this happens!) Also, if your son had his vision tested at a school screening (where there can be plenty of distractions), it's a good idea to schedule a comprehensive eye exam to rule out nearsightedness, astigmatism, farsightedness or an eye health problem that may be keeping him from having better visual acuity.